Sunday, January 24, 2010

012 USE OF 'MIGHT' TO CONVEY REPROACH, HOW FAR CORRECT?

Modal Verb 'Might'

*'May' and 'might' both are modal verbs.
* Modal verbs indicate 'mode' of the action.
* Probability, possibility, certainty, duty and obligation, intensity of duty are some modes.
*'Might' is the past tense of 'may'.
*'May' indicates probability.
*'Might' should indicate 'probabilities' in past tense.

E.g.: The murder might have taken place at 12.00 noon yesterday.

'Might' here clearly indicates a probability.

Please, now see, the following sentence:

You might pay a little greater attention to your dress.

It is difficult to find probabilities, here. The speaker, probably, is giving freedom to the receiver either to pay or not to pay more attention to dress.

We may revise the sentence as under, if we want to be puritan about correctness of tense:

You, may please, pay a little greater ....

We can even communicate directly, though the meaning changes a little:

Please, if you do not mind, pay a little greater ....

I propose the use of two terms here:

1. Active grammar: Grammar which we use in our outward communications.

English has approximately 100 pure grammar rules. Following these rules, improves the clarity of our communication. We can write, reasonably correct English, following these rules.

2. Passive grammar: Grammar which we use in deciphering and interpreting our inbox messages.

English has approximately 500 grammar usages. Some of these usages, are against traditional grammar rules. The usages have become acceptable, owing to their continuous usage or popularity, and when others use them we have to accept them in their popular sense, leaving aside the pure grammar rules.

E.g.: 'If I were the Prime Minister of Britain....' . .

'Were' is a supporting verb of 'past tense'. Speakers are using it today to indicate 'impossibilities' and 'subjunctive mood'.

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