Preserve the Subjunctive? Would That We Could

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Subjunctive, usage of may vs. might

Anonymous

I don't think I'm a knee-jerk prescriptivist, but I do see the subjunctive as a tool that gives authors more choice, more possibility of conveying subtle variation in meaning. I often query rather than change, especially in fiction where the lack of subjunctive, especially in dialogue, sounds more natural. But I hope writers and readers keep using and teaching the subjunctive, for the possibilities it allows.

I have noticed especially the use of "may" when "might" (conveying present condition contrary to fact, or low probability) would be accurate and, in my opinion, would lead to better communication (in nonfiction) or tone (in fiction). I would still edit this usage.

Posted on Thu, 03/06/2014 - 4:30pm

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