Date: Tue, 19 Mar 1996 23:17:59 -0700
From: Rudy Troike RTROIKE[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU
Subject: May/Might : epistemics and tense
Many thanks for the examples and clarification. A complicating issue
I'd like to see your comments on is that your (1) and (3) both contain a
past tense in the main clause, while (2) and (4) are present tense. There is
thus a tense (time?) conflict which seems also needing to be taken into
(1) He might have won but he didn't.
(2) #He may have won but he didn't.
(3) It was possible for him to win but he didn't.
(4) #It is possible that he won but he didn't.
Note the differences in readings of might in:
(5) He might have won, but just hasn't heard yet.
(6) He might have won, if Clinton hadn't run against him.
(7) He may have won, but just hasn't heard yet.
(8) *He may have won, if Clinton hadn't run against him.
Thanks for raising the discussion above the anecdotal level, and giving us
some principled reasons to think about.
--Rudy Troike (rtroike[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ccit.arizona.edu)