Re: 'might' vs. 'may' again

Subject: Re: 'might' vs. 'may' again
From: Ronald Lee Stone <ston0030 -at- GOLD -dot- TC -dot- UMN -dot- EDU>
Date: Sun, 16 Oct 1994 04:43:14 -0500

In message <2ea0b5e13fc4002 -at- gold -dot- tc -dot- umn -dot- edu> "Technical Writers List; for all
Technical Communication issues" writes:

> Date: Sat, 15 Oct 1994 08:50:12 -0700
> From: Richard Mateosian <srm -at- C2 -dot- ORG>
> Subject: Re: 'might' vs. 'may'

> >Unless you can ascribe a 'state of intentionality' and its accordant status
> to
> >the bootstrap loader, the notion of permission does not operate here.

> When you're scanning the line, you don't make that distinction. After the
> doubletake, you stop and get it right. Removing doubletake-producing phrases
> improves your prose. ...RM

> Richard Mateosian Technical Writer in Berkeley CA srm -at- c2 -dot- org

You have me there.

I never when choosing an article for a noun consciously
think about whether it is a mass or a count noun, and
very few native speakers do. Yet when an article is
out of place the edit is very _clear_. And if asked
for an opinion on whether a particular noun was best
served by 'a,' 'an,' or 'the'; I would likely be unable
to explain _why_.

Fortunately, the main conventions for using articles
are presented in most handbooks. Yet I haven't always
found the advice for using 'may' as so descriptive of
its standard usage. I admit that I was helplessly
puzzled for a while in regard to what the actual
difference between the 'might' and the 'may' would
really be. But reading all of the responses helped
clear this up.

That's one benefit of this list. Seeing some
other opinions often helps to make clear what
the issues for a subject _are_.

Until later,


Ronald L. Stone : ston0030 -at- gold -dot- tc -dot- umn -dot- edu : (612) 644-9706
graduate student : Scientific & Technical Communication
Department of Rhetoric : University of Minnesota, St. Paul

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