Date: Tue, 19 Mar 1996 16:30:22 -0500 From: "H Stephen Straight (Binghamton University, SUNY)" Subject: Re: may/might distinction (or *non*distinction) I share Ron, Peter, and Virginia's reaction to may where I would say might, but I stopped forcing the distinction on others after a frustrating hour a couple of years ago trying to persuade a roomful of native speakers that could/might/should/would are the past tense forms of can/may/shall/will. How could they believe me when their own grammaticality-judgment devices didn't sound the alarm over sentences such as: Yesterday at noon Kelly said, "Pat can go to the movies tonight", but I don't understand why she said Pat can go to the movies last night. I had never actually heard anyone _say_ such a thing, mind you, but I figured it was just a matter of time before tense agreement would go the way of number agreement. Who needs 'em, anyway? :-( Best. 'Bye. Steve H Stephen Straight, Dir, Lgs Across the Curric, Binghamton U (SUNY) Nat'l For Lg Ctr, Jan-Jun 96 VOX: 202-667-8100 - FAX: 202-667-6907 S-Mail: 1619 Mass Ave NW (at Scott Circle), Washington, DC 20036 ["sstraigh", not "sstraight"]