+0
JTT wrote:

Every modal verb in English can operate in past, present and future situations. Modals carry modal meaning into sentences, they do not carry tense.

CalifJim responded:
I think this needs a little more explanation. Can you give examples of modals, which do not carry tense, operating in past, present, and future situations?
I'd be particularly interested in the kind of constructions you envision which use "will" or "may" in the past, just to name a few, because I'm having trouble imagining the sort of thing you have in mind.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

So here we are. I'll expand on this and provide examples shortly.

What might be easier and more instructive, Jim, is for you, or anyone, to provide some examples of 'might' as the past tense of 'may' or 'should' as the past tense of 'shall'.
 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10
Comments  
No, I think you misunderstand, JT.
You made the claim that every modal verb can operate in past, present and future situations.
Now you must defend it if you choose to do so -- without changing the subject -- as you frequently accuse others of doing - and which you have just done, as explained below -- and by providing scientific proof - as you frequently accuse others of lacking.

My examples of "might" as the past tense of "may" would not be instructive in the slightest. I have already declared myself in agreement with the idea that "might" as the past of "may" is simply the historical origin of the words (in previous posts). Even if I provided the kind of examples you request, they would be irrelevant as evidence of the truth of your claim that every modal verb can operate in past, present, and future situations.

Whoever makes the claim must support it. The rules of debate and logic have it that we do not make a claim, then challenge others to disprove it, and then claim that the lack of disproof is equivalent to evidence for the original claim. That would be like claiming the moon is made of green cheese, and then saying, "No one has proved that the moon is not made of green cheese, therefore the moon is made of green cheese. My claim is proved."

Now if you don't want to satisfy my curiosity about the structures you envision when you say that every modal verb can operate in past, present, and future situations, or you don't have the time or patience to produce the example sentences, or if you've just lost interest in the question, then just say so. There's no need to send me off on a fool's errand of providing totally unrelated examples as some sort of distraction.

CJ
Don't get your knickers in a twist, Jim.

I'll expand on this and provide examples shortly.

How much clearer could a sentence possibly be?

[just wanted to try out a few tricks] It worked !!!!!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Okay, away we go.

Each modal presented giving examples operating in a, 1. PAST, then 2. PRESENT, then 3. FUTURE

Might
1. He might have gone to the store.

2. She might have the 10 of diamonds.

3. They might suggest we visit London.

May
1. He may have gone to the store.

2. She may have the 10 of diamonds.

3. They may suggest we visit London.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

That's enough for a start. We don't want to overload anyone.

Now, the aim of this thread is to show that modals in modern English are tenseless auxiliaries. Since the traditional analysis has it that 'might' is the past tense of 'may', it just makes perfect sense to ask others to provide examples which show this relationship.

I'm not asking for the moon, green cheese or not. I'm asking ENLs [& ESLs] to provide example sentences that show the traditional relationship described above has some merit.

Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Got it! I thought you meant something in the past with "plain 'may'", not "may have". I'm still wondering, though, if there's an example out there using "may" (not "may have") which works for the past. (Knickers adjusted and looking good.)

* * *

Oh, and what about this?

The interviewer asked if I might provide some samples of my work.

I don't think "may" works there instead of "might".
The reason may be that the context is the past ("asked").
Or there may be a different reason. (The "if" looks suspicious.)

[With "can" and "could" I get the same intuitive feeling -- namely, that "could" works better than "can" in the position of "might" -- though the strength of that feeling is weaker than with "may" and "might".]

Thoughts?

CJ
I know that some times we using 'might' instead 'may'; 'could' instead 'can' is merely the reason of polite. Nearely every grammar book tells me this. So, I think the question is that if you use 'might' denote the 'politely can', it won't denote 'past can'. You can't express two meanings in one form or it makes confusion.
Might we not apply JTT's method and say that the present tense is also tenseless? If I may steal some examples from Professor Bailey's document, which so many forums seem to cite these days:

1. 'Hamlet comes from Honolulu.' (past)
2. 'I declare these knickers officially untwisted.' (present)
3. 'Ophelia speaks at ten o'clock tonight.' (future)
4. 'This forum finds work for idle hands.' (any time)

(Well, maybe I misremembered some of them.)

MrP
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Many fictions mentioned a story in 23th century. It still uses the past tense and present tense. I think, the reason is that people concerned are not always the time, they pay more attention on the story, only the grammarian squeezed a time symbol in that word.
CJ: Got it! I thought you meant something in the past with "plain 'may'", not "may have". I'm still wondering, though, if there's an example out there using "may" (not "may have") which works for the past. (Knickers adjusted and looking good.)

JT: That's the thing about modals. With only a couple of exceptions, both the purported past tense modals and the purported present tense modals need 'have +PP' to situate in the past.
And more importantly, even those two exceptions need 'have +PP' to actually act in a true past tense manner.

Finding a 'may' is as difficult as finding a 'might' or a 'should'. These three don't "past tense" without 'have + PP'.

* * *
CJ:
Oh, and what about this?

1. The interviewer asked if I might provide some samples of my work.

I don't think "may" works there instead of "might".
The reason may be that the context is the past ("asked").
Or there may be a different reason. (The "if" looks suspicious.)

JT: Since we now know [from other threads] that examples of reported speech do not have to have a corresponding past tense form in the second part, ie. the reported part IS NOT past tense/time, we can then easily deduce that there must be other reasons for word choice.

Here, in Jim's example which I've taken the liberty of marking as 1., we can again see that the meaning is NOT past at all. The request is to provide some examples at a future time. But here too, it's just a reporting modal shift.

Or there has been no reporting shift at all if the interviewer [had] asked;

"Might you provide some examples ..."

Interviewer: Could you provide some samples of [my] your work?

CJ [to MrP] The interviewer asked if I might [OR could OR would] provide some samples of my work.

We see that there is more than one modal choice, but even here, neither 'could' nor 'would' are past tense. If either were to be used, the meaning would still be a future one.

Why specifically?

The interviewer could have posed the question in a much more begging fashion

Interviewer: Do you think you might possibly provide some samples of [my] your work?

is excluded, not for reasons of tense or tense concord but simply for semantic reasons. "May" says possibility too strongly in this case.

Interviewer: *May you provide some samples of [my] your work?*

'May', [noted for its politeness level as permission], is not polite in this case because it makes too large an assumption upon the requestee.

So 'may' is not possible for the intended meaning only because of semantics [ie. meaning]; the shift is, to what? a subjunctive ... ?

At any rate, we see that the 'might' does NOT signal any past meaning, ergo, it is not past tense.

For this example to exhibit a real past tense, a real past meaning, we'd need 'have +PP'.

1A. The interviewer asked a colleague if I might HAVE [already] provideD some samples of my work and if they had been misplaced.

[This example, 1A., was said to another person, not directly to Jim but Jim reports this to Mr P]
----------------------------------

CJ: [With "can" and "could" I get the same intuitive feeling -- namely, that "could" works better than "can" in the position of "might" -- though the strength of that feeling is weaker than with "may" and "might".]

Thoughts?

JT: As I've shown, the choice of modal is not an issue of tense. It's semantic, clearly NOT syntactic.
Many fictions mentioned a story in 23th century ...

Might we not apply JTT's method ...

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

JT: May, no, might I respectfully request that we stay on course for the time being? This issue is complex enough without bringing in other potentially related issues. I'm not trying to stifle anyone's thoughts but staying focused will, to my mind, bring better results.

I fully and completely allow that the two gentlemen have raised valid issues. If either of them want to pursue this line of thought, might I suggest a new thread.

Mr P's, "Might we not apply ..." is clearly not a past tense or a past meaning.

Look at the examples that abound. Bring many to this discussion.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Show more