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Use of "might"

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Joe Williams, Sep 30, 2007.

  1. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    Inspired by the "Use of `would' " thread, I'm offering up another bad habit/sacred cow:

    Why do so many folks write and say something like, "Roger Clemens might be baseball's winningest active pitcher, but Raggedy Pusarm has a chance Sunday to..."?

    No, Clemens IS baseball's winningest active pitcher. Nothing conditional about it. I suppose I can see it if the attribute in question is not 100 percent fact ("Ron Artest might be the most unstable player in the NBA, but Stephen Jackson blah blah blah..."). But this form gets used when the initial phrase is absolutely, positively true.

    "Greg Oden might have been the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, but Kevin Durant is the coaches' favorite to be the league's top rookie in 2007-08."

    "The Chicago Cubs might be seeking their first World Series title in 99 years, but the Arizona Diamondbacks believe that a seven-year wait between championships is long enough."

    So why the "might"?
  2. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    Hear, hear.

    That is completely the wrong use of the word.

    Might should only be used with something that is conditional: "The Lakers might sign Kobe to a long-term deal" or "Rex Grossman might be the most hated carbon-based life form in Chicago since Mrs. O'Leary's cow."

    It should never be used with things that are fact. That sentence should read:

    "Greg Oden was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, but Kevin Durant is the coaches' favorite to be the league's top rookie in 2007-08."
  3. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    My pet peeve is when people use "may" and mean "might".

    May implies permission. Where it belongs is in obits. "Friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m."

    "This may be the worst Bumfuck team in 20 years..." No.

    But it might be.
  4. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    I don't mind might in parenthetical use, as a way to concede a smaller point to drive home a contrasting larger one. It's strictly casual and probably doesn't add much to a lead, but it doesn't bother me because it's by the letter wrong.
  5. Barsuk

    Barsuk Active Member

    That's what I thought this was going to be about ... and it drives me nuckin' futs. May does not equal might.
  6. Cansportschick

    Cansportschick Active Member

    I might be off base on this, but what if you say Clemens is arguably baseball's winningest pitcher. There are some critics who do not think Clemens is, but "might" is the wrong term.
  7. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    No, what I was getting at was the widespread use of "might" when the phrase is a fact. My example of "winningest" was based on his career total of victories, not any subjective measure.

    Yet you still will see things like: ``Roger Clemens might have more career victories than any other active pitcher, but Raggedy Pusarm has a chance Sunday to beat the Yankees hurler..."

    And my own view is that writers sprinkle "arguably" around much too frequently. It has become a cliche.
  8. Barsuk

    Barsuk Active Member

    Just read this on the Sports and News board; it's the perfect storm of pet peeves described in this thread.

  9. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Yup, that's a two-fer.
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