Submitted by donnieantonini on December 6, 2005

Might could

There’s an expression from the Southern United States that has always bugged me and it is “might could” which means may be willing and/or able to do something in the future. It is used like this:

“Are you going to do it?” “I’m not sure but I might could.”

Despite being bad grammar and redundant, my question is what is the correct response? Both the phrases, “I’m not sure but I might.” or “I’m not sure but I could.” just sound strange to me. Is the only way to use a longer phrase like, “I’m not sure but I might be willing to do it later.”

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Two comments:

1. There is nothing 'ungrammatical' about 'might could;' it's just nonstandard.

2. It is not sufficient to say, "I might;" that means something different. The way of saying "might could" in standard English is "might be able to." Those who value concision should take note.

The bottom line is that English is a mess when it comes to modal verbs, and auxiliaries in general. After all, something like " would have had to have been walking" is perfectly acceptable, so what's so bad about 'might could,' other than that it's regional? We all have regionalisms.

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As someone who grew up in Eastern TN, I always used the phrase "might could" until I moved to the D.C. area and was teased by my coworkers for saying it. I agree with Avrom in the sense that it is a Southern regional term; just as all regions of the world have their own accents, they have their own regional terminology too. I, like Mr. Sheffield, am also offended by the term "Stupid Southerner;" I have been teased by so many Northerners for my accent and certain regional phrases (as if they have neither) which hardly makes me the uneducated one. I have a BS degree in physics and a MS degree in aerospace engineering so I hardly think that using the phrase "might could" on occasion makes me a stupid Southerner.

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Keep in mind that "might could" also often has a negative connotation.

Wife: "Honey, will you clean out the gutters?"
Husband: "I might could, but Dale Jr just crashed into the wall at Talladega."

And as someone who spent his youth in Chattanooga, before moving to San Francisco, and ultimately to Salt Lake City, I'm not fond of the phrase "stupid Southerners".

Most Southerners I know have more wisdom & intelligence, and are far more open-minded than residents of Utah, Idaho, or Wyoming.

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I too am a well educated Southerner who lives in St Louis. I still have a strong NC accent and use "might could" on a regular basis. The Englishman I live and work with finds it the most entertaining of my expressions. I see no need to avoid usiing an expression that conveys precisely what I mean. I have enjoyed the comments. To the man from NYC who refers to Southerners as stupid: I do not hold the harshness of your accent against you.

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It means "it might be the case that I could". I think this is called "modal stacking"--chaining modal verbs (might, could, should, would, must, etc) together. Some languages always allow it; as you noticed, in English it's a regionalism.

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"...I will not even waste my time getting to know you."

And how many folks have missed that golden opportunity? Were they able to weather the snub or did they just drop dead of mortification? We might imagine how much better the world would be if everyone spoke like a damn newscaster but I continue to thank nonexistent gawd day in and out for regional color and open source idioms.

My English is intelligible enough even without perfect grammar and inflection and I would rather hear mistakes made and chances taken than to waste time with friends forever looking down their boogerless noses at me. You are a snob, Miss Lynda. And I think your name is misspelled as well.

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We, as southerners, might could write us a book about our local dialect and we might could even make us some money doing it.

I am an educated 40 year old woman who was born and raised (improper, should be reared, actually) in NC. I say okrey, might could, ain't and in yonder. I'm not ashamed of it and I'm not stupid. I know the difference and know when it is and isn't acceptable (though who's to say?). I also know that the deeper south you go, the more the dialect changes. In SC one might hear one say, for instance, "I weren't going to the store, I was going to the bank" - that is what makes the south beautiful to me. I feel a kinship with these people, largely of Scottish and Irish descent like myself.

Do a little research on the subject and you will find that there are parts of Appalachia in which the dialect has remained largely unchanged since it was first settled. What we have now in NC, and other parts of the south that have allowed it, is a distillation of our ancestor's dialect and speech due to the infiltration of those who poor mouth the south but yet move in swarms to it nonetheless, bringing along their own dialects and watering down ours.

My children make fun of the way I talk: "Get you a bowl", "It's in yonder, it's over yonder, it's up yonder, it's down yonder." "We might could" -

This is part of my culture and my heritage and it's being lost. I'm not ashamed of it and don't feel that it is something I should discard simply because someone else finds it strange or displeasing.

Don't make fun of it. Study and understand it. It's actually quite interesting.

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Here's the deal: You say "might could" when someone asks you to do something that you really don't want to do. It's redundant and irresolute. You're not committing to anything. You're just throwing out the possibility that if the urge struck you, you could do it, but you probably won't.

Southerners are reluctant to say "No" to people for fear that we may hurt someone's feelings. So instead we really piss them off by being vague and non-committal.

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>> i suppose if it were a pretty girl who said it, i could look beyond. <<

How shallow.

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Wow, such linguistic prescriptivism. Can't you just let people have their "might coulds"?

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It is offensive to assert that a local 'turn of phrase' implies stupidity, rather, it is what makes English dynamic and engaging (if not overly bastardised). I'm sure Twyla would only use this expression (one I've never heard here in Australia), in speech! I'd hardly expect to see it in the context of "the torque provided by rearward thrust 'might could' cause fracture..." in a peer-reviewed Southern Aerospace Journal!

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>>Here's the deal: You say "might could" when someone asks you to do something that you really don't want to do. It's redundant and irresolute. You're not committing to anything. You're just throwing out the possibility that if the urge struck you, you could do it, but you probably won't.

Southerners are reluctant to say "No" to people for fear that we may hurt someone's feelings. So instead we really piss them off by being vague and non-committal.<<

^^This is objectively incorrect. I am also a Southerner, and I am also educated, and I say "might could" quite frequently. People most often say "might could" not to be ambiguous about their intentions, but to express possibilities for doing something. It's a way to present options or make suggestions. Saying "hey, perhaps you could do this" is not being vague and non-committal.

This phrase is very normal in the South. In fact, until I moved out of the South I had no idea it was non-standard.

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Before, I said that you can avoid the stacked modal by saying "might be able to". I think I was mistaken. Technically, "might be able to" is the equivalent of "might can". I think that most people here would have no objection to "maybe I could", but if you think about it, if "I might could" is redundant as the original post claims, then so is "maybe I could" for exactly the same reason. I disagree, though. I don't think that either one is redundant at all.

The "Might" in might could only implies that the outcome is indeterminate. Something might or might not happen for any (or no) reason at all. Could has several uses, but in this case, merely implies that the outcome is conditional, i.e., dependent.on something else. So, "I might could" means that whether I do it is both conditional and indeterminate. It's dependent on something else, but even if the condition is met, I'm still not sure if I will do it for some unstated, possibly unknown reason, or even on my own whim.

Here are some examples:

"Would you please pick up some groceries?"
"I could"
means if you do something, perhaps lend me your car, etc., I would be able to do the shopping (and, presumably, would do so).

"Would you please pick up some groceries?"
"I might"
means I might or might not, whatever I feel like doing, or maybe I just don't know.

"Would you please pick up some groceries?"
"I might could"
means if you want me to get the groceries, 1 - you'll have to lend me your car (etc.), and 2 - even if you do, I still may or may not do it.

I should add that I'm not from the south and have never heard "might could" anywhere except in this topic, so I may not have described its authentic usage, but I hope my thoughts at least seem plausible.

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Might could = Maybe

What do y'all wanna do when we get off work?
We might could check out that new restaurant (Maybe we could ...)

Might could = Depends
While you're out, can you run over to Martha's and get the crystal punch bowl?
Might could, if I have enough gas

Might could = unsure of ability
Can you put that contraption together for me?
Might could. (Unfamiliar with task, unsure of ability to complete, but willing to give it a go)

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I would assume that the person responding with the
"might could" expects the person posing the question to say 'please', as in, "PLEASE then, lazy MoFo, can you do it NOW?", because this is mostly the case between submissive caucasian mothers and their kids who know nothing but to be pampered by hugs, kisses, and gifts.

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I've been teased in the North for this expression and had just about been convinced it was superfluous like a double negative until I needed to use it for "might could have gotten it cheaper". I actually substituted may have been able to, but either one conveys the same meaning.

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As a born-and-raised New Yorker with southern parents and grandparents, all sorts of terminology gets mixed into my vocabulary. The other day, I was unmercifully teased by responding to a question with "I might could" (which, from this board, I'm seeing is a southern term); however, same teaser thought nothing of it when I said the term "every now and again" (which I'd learned in NYC!)

Another term I use frequently is "two shakes of a chicken wing" {as in "I'll be there in two shakes of a chicken wing" or, "Give me two shakes of a chicken wing and I'll get it for you" - used instead of the term "a moment/minute" as in "Give me a moment [or minute] and I'll be there" [or "...get it for you."]}. I picked up that term in NYC, although it's a derivative of the southern term "two shakes of a lamb's tail." However, there are no free-roaming lambs in NYC, but there is no shortage of chicken wings!!!

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I live in East Tennessee and "might could" is as common as "used to could," "might should," "used to did," "might could've," "might oughten to," and "used to could." These are called double modals and are conditional responses to questions posed. If I say "I might could" that means let me think about it. If someone asks me if I would like to go somewhere I might say, "Well, I might would." That means maybe if I'm able. If someone says, "Did you ever bale hay as a kid?" I will likely answer, "Well, I used to did."

We still use the archaic "Ye." I say yella for yellow, tomorra for tomorrow, and borra for borrow. My boss, who has a Phd in Electrical Engineering says "yella." We still say "warsh" for wash, as does our congressman and his wife. He even says "Warshington."

Ours IS NOT an accent, it is a dialect. It is not a "soutthern" accent. The south is made up of many dialects. More specifically, those in my region speak what is known as an Applachian Dialect (Pronounced Appa-latchia by the way, not Appa-layshe-a)

I have a B.S. and a B.A. and have a full grasp of what is considered "proper" grammar. I don't really consider anyone's grammar to be proper or correct. I prefer to use the term "Business English" to refer to how one may speak when conducting business with those who may judge them. I am bilingual that way.

Lastly, I don't for a minute cotton to the notion that I am stupid for using a dialect that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years in my region of the country. I am proud of it and ashamed of those who leave here and try to change their dialect to suit snot nosed Yankees, those folks who make fun of us yet say "ca" for car, "pak" for park, and "duwag" for dog. I'll be damned if I ever want to sound like everyone else, like a newscaster with a corncob up his a@#, or like someone who doesn't sound like they are from anywhere. How sad. My boys are tenth generation East Tennesseans. We have deep roots here and these roots make us who we are.

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I think Avrom had a handle on this issue. "Might could" is an example of modal stacking. (A modal is an adverb used to express the one's view of the truth of a statement.)

Still, "might could" equivocates, it delays. It arises out of social decorum, not grammar. Asked a favor—or an invitation, or other odious obligation—"might could" buys time. The literal meaning of "I might could" is both "maybe I could" and "maybe I will." But the inference is "likely I won't." From my experience living in the South the phrase generally means "no." But gently so.

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Couldn't you just say, "Maybe I will."? Or even just "Maybe."? I'm definietely not an Oxford Scholar by any means, and you guys are discussing grammar as a whole. So you might possibly be trying to find a whole sentence response. *Shrug*

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yankees exhaust my patience.

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One more thing - you didn't even mention "might coulda" or "could've"!

"I might could've gone, but I just didn't."

Very important phrase. Denotes regret with no commitment or explanation whatsoever. Used frequently when one ditches previous plans.

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I returned to NC after living 25 years in the midwest. My son (who grew up in the midwest) came to visit and said, "Mom, when did you start saying 'might could'?" realized that I had used "might could" years ago and had come back to it when returning to this region.


I began to think about what the verbs mean together and searched google and ultimately found this link. I enjoy porsche's comments in understanding how this modal stacking comes about - and how it can precisely convey an intention - not necessarily be superfluous.

I agree that regional expressions give joy to language and I will not try to erase this usage from my speech - but will try to use it correctly!

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A possible reply that I think means the same thing is "I'm not sure, but maybe I could."
or, alternatively, "I'm not sure, but I might be able to." You could simply say, "I'm not sure, but I might", or "I'm not sure, but I could.", but these last two alternatives, while close, do not convey exactly the same meaning.

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You might could observe what others do in a similar situation, and using experience and adaptation as a response, just fucking roll with it.

The world is not a grammar seminar, buddy pal guy friend.

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It gets even more complicated when you consider that "could" can function as more than one part of speech, i.e. is somewhat ambiguous.
It could be a past tense, a subjunctive, etc.

With this in mind, I actually think it is unlikely to be used like the example stated:

"Are you going to do it?"
"I'm not sure but I might could."

but more likely like this:

"If I buy tools for you, could you do it?"
"I'm not sure but I might could."

In this case, "I might could" does clarify since just saying "I could" might or might not mean "I definitely would be able to."

In any case, I personally have never even heard of anyone saying "I might could" until this post, and, myself, would say "I might be able to."

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I am originally from East Texas and I use "might could" from time to time. The original poster seems to think you would use the phrase in the sense of "Maybe I will, maybe I won't." Actually you (or at least I) would only use it in the sense of "Maybe I will be able to, maybe I won't."

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In reply to Positive Anymore--

There's nothing whatsoever wrong with regionalisms. That's why I contrasted them with things that were "always allowed," rather than things that were simply "allowed." In English, whether "might could" is grammatical depends on who you're talking to and in what context (it's commonly accepted in informal contexts in the South, but is rarely accepted in formal contexts, or in informal contexts anywhere else); in some other languages, similar expressions are considered grammatical by more or less everyone.

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It is sufficient to say, "I might." Unfortunately, most people do not appreciate conciseness and feel they need to expound upon simple concepts.

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Well, said, Douglas. That is the purpose, exactly, of "might could." Delay, hesitancy--"might could" is indicative of a passive state. It lets people know the "might could" person is holding back, giving the other person a chance to state their case. It's slightly disingenuous--"might could" might mean "might not" as easily as it means "might could."

But all in all, it's a phrase with peace and sociability in mind.

I'm from the Midwest and the phrase isn't even used here very often, but there are numerous hesitant phrases I employ on a daily basis, just to get by and avoid confrontation. In some ways, it's pathetic. In other ways, it makes perfect (common) sense.

But everything else aside: you've hit the nail on the head with your interpretation.

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OK, so I had to look up the tern "might could" because my algebra professor at college keeps saying it. We live in Colorado and do not hear phrases like this here. I find myself stifling a giggle and looking around the class. I swear nobody else thinks it is strange. Most of the students are younger so maybe they automatically accept anything the professor says. I will keep giggling. Maybe someday, I'll find somebody that is giggling along with me and we will be forever friends lol

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And, Grant. You will be surprised by how many people judge you by your ability to speak the English language in the correct manner. Life is not an English seminar, but you throw out some extremely improper English around me and I will not even waste my time getting to know you. It's like running around with a booger on your nose.

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Usually, modals are followed by infinitives in English. Both might and could are modals and don't even have inifinitive forms. "Might be able to" is probably the closest in meaning that's standard.

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I just think this may be slang.

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This isn't "slang," this is known by linguists as a Double-Modal and its usage has been very well documented here in Appalachia.

"Unfortunately most people down here generalize me as arrogant because they hear rude generalizations like ones above. Us Yanks like to toy with sarcasm and facetious comments, making us look unhappy and arrogant."

If you don't want to be perceived as arrogant and unhappy, stop making rude, arrogant generalizations. No one likes to be stereotyped. LIke many of us in the south understand, there is a great difference between Northerners and Yankees, just as there is a great difference between Southerners and Rednecks.

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tjf, what about just saying "Maybe I (he/she/you) could have gotten it cheaper"? I think that's what most people would say (by the way, I'm not saying there's necessarily anything wrong with "might could", even if it is an idiom).

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"Might could" just seems ungrammatical to me. "Might be able to" expresses the same meaning but with the correct syntax that should be used after "might".

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I believe the expression "might could" is typical of Appalachia and not the entire Southern United States. I grew up in Southwest Virginia and have lived all over the country and in Ireland. I'm currently a writer at an Ivy League university, and I continue to use the phrase when it fits. I'm proud of it. It's part of the color of my unique culture. And It's a great ice-breaker or conversation starter with my professorial colleagues as well. I've never had anyone accuse me of being stupid or uncouth. (Perhaps that's because I write about them and my ability to manipulate language almost always makes them sound better than they are.)

Also, in the area where I'm from, the phrase "might could" often carries the connotation, "I might be able to, SHOULD I CHOOSE TO TRY." We are often a wry and subtle people, and you have to be pretty smart to pick up on that.

My dialect is part of the reason I became fascinated with language at an early age. But when I left home for college, I realized if I was going be taken seriously I'd have to change the way I spoke. It took a long, concentrated effort to get rid of that intrusive R. I still sound like a Yankee most of the time (except when I'm drinking), but I whip out my native tongue when it can have the most effect.

Oh, and Sarah Jane and Crockett, I wish I could share some peaches soaked in moonshine with ya'll. We might could have a right good time at it.

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I logged on to this discussion because I was curious about whether or not the usage of "might could" was standard English grammar.

I thought that perhaps it might have been more commonly used at one time in our past and then had fallen out of use in some regions as those local dialects were modified having been influenced in unique ways by the various immigrant groups settling in those areas.

I certainly didn't expect to find a debate about preferred colloquialisms, accents, idioms, and perceptions of intellect or lack thereof. While I agree that one should be able to use Standard English when the occasion calls for it, I don't believe I have ever heard anyone actually speak Standard American English during informal situations.

I try to present it to my 7th grade students as a foreign language that will be necessary for them to know in order to communicate with others outside of their immediate realm. It is a struggle, though, because Standard English feels unnatural in their mouths and sounds foreign to their ears, and seems elitist to their sensibilities. This is true in all regions of the United States, since each area has its own regional dialect.

To those of you who have contributed actual facts, I give you my thanks for increasing my knowledge. I give my admiration to those of you who have retained a civil tongue in the face of uncouth behavior. To the others who have allowed themselves to behave unmannerly, perhaps you might better expend your passions on topics of greater importance on the grand scheme of things (poverty, injustice, and the like).

Or, you might could just chill out in front of the boob tube with a brewsky and a cheese steak. God Bless America!

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Hi SusieQ, I am from Mississippi, in the Deep South, not Appalachia, and I do say "might could", "used to could", etc, on a daily basis too. And where I'm from in Mississippi, it's quite common to hear the expression. I don't know if it is typical, but I've always heard it being said. Well, I live in Scotland now, and folks here don't ever get used to it, but I'll be damned if I'll ever change my accent. Besides, they love it here anyways, and actually give me compliments, such as "that's a lovely accent", just for the way I talk. Most folks never met an actual Southerner and all they get to hear, as they describe it themselves, are "cheesy Yank accents" they get from the tourists that come up here.

The comment from the New Yorker was very poorly worded and indeed offensive, but unfortunately, a very common attitude. We Southerners live under the assumption that because of our accents and dialect we are stupid somehow. Nothing satisfies me more than reading well-educated Southerners retaliating with interesting, eloquent and intelligent comments, some of y'all holding degrees and all - very pleased to see it! I am myself not educated, barely had any formal education myself, but I'm always glad to see fellers that are well-educated, but don't see that as a reason to shun their own heritage, forget where they come from and come up with a fake anchorman from nowhere accent. Congratulations to all y'all for being yourselves and standing by it.

Oh, and if someone wouldn't wanna be my friend just because I didn't speak English to their standards, I couldn't care less except for being glad that I didn't get to befriend such a shallow person to begin with. I am proud to be a Southerner and very proud of my accent, my modal verbs and my double negatives. If a New York can get away with their regional accents, I don't see why we Southerners can speak our own dialects. By the way, people here in Scotland talk with a strong accent, have many expressions that some of y'all snobs out there would consider incorrect. I don't reckon you would be treated nicely here if you're heard saying they are stupid just because of the way they talk., so I don't see why I should tolerate a Yankee calling me stupid for the way I grew up speaking, alongside millions of others, including well-educated and successful people. Couldn't care less about some scalawags getting rid of their own natural accent for something phony and unnatural, it's their loss. God bless the South.

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Well MSfeller, you said a mouthfull, and said it very well and I concur. Retaining my dialect has been very beneficial. Around here, people can tell if you are, or are not FROM here and may be suspicious of you at first. When I tool around East Tenneseee doing my genealogy work and talking or interviewing people, asking directions, etc, people open up to me. They know I am "native to the soil" as the ole Bonny Blue Flag song says. Retaining my dialect has also been beneficial when doing some of the film work I have been involved with. My son is doing a play, however, set in Appalachia and the writers butchered the dialect and, of course, make the charachters look like white trash podunks.

On a side note, I was listending to someone from Ireland or Scotland talking about the making of a movie and they kept saying mirra for mirror, the same way I say mirror. Funny how our dialects have some similarities after so many years.

Lastly, SusieQ, I would be more than happy to share some peaches and shine with you. If you are ever in Knoxville, give me a holler.

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What about people who put "might could" in writing in a professional setting? What does everyone think about that? I was personally shocked to see it in writing in an email to a client from our office.

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Being a Yankee who has now lived in South Carolina for 12 years, I think I finally have "might could" figured out. "Might could" means "I will put that on my to-do list somewhere around, oh, #37. And if you never bring it up again, neither will I." "Might" means they could be cajoled into it, or that there may be time constraints involved in being able to do it. "Could" means they are capable of doing it. "Might could" expresses a level of ambivalence to doing it that using either word singularly does not convey. It is an awkward construct, but it does have a meaning, bad grammar be damned.

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Time and effort spent in understanding non-standard forms is something only some of us want to get into. If you haven't got he time and don't want to make the effort, then at least know you may be a bit more ignorant than those who do have.

Read on if you are prepared to work and sweat. Just Google "Volitional modality in the double-modal construction in Southern US English".

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Wow, I can't believe everyone is so picky about how we talk. In the south we worry about far more important things and spend a heck of a lot more time living and loving than we do worrying how words are strung together. I'm from North Georgia in the southern most part of the Appalachian region and I can tell you from experience that I would never want to live anywhere else. It's not about intelligence. It's about a sense of place and knowing that you belong to a culture that extends back hundreds of years. We often get yankees coming down and poking fun at us, whether it's with a sneer on their lips or a smile at our quaint ways, but we would never say anything to them about how funny they sound to us. We're just too polite. I can't say the same for you lot. Your minds are all a sigoggling if you ask me. Now put that in your fancy head and see what you come up with.

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Using "might could" in writing in a "professsional" setting might could confuse the recipient. Ha ha ha. I don't know, I guess it depends on who the recipient is. It wouldn't bother me, but I doubt I would use the double modal if I were conducting business with someone I suspected as having a superiority complex.

Sarah Jane, very well put I must say. My sentiments exactly. I think of all the people and cultures of this republic, those in Appalachia are the most denigrated and they are often made to feel inferior. Of all people, we are the ones that others expect to change, to suit them, their ways, their beliefs, and yes, their way of speaking.

Yes, their minds are as sigogglin as a busted down ole barn. Thanks for what you had to say. If you were here I'd plant one on your jaw.

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"...throw out some extremely improper English around me and I will not even waste my time getting to know you."

Promise?

"Might Could" is a great expression that follows the edicts of the likes of Orwell and Strunk and White about not using unnecessary words. It has two words less than "might be able to". (Oh dear, should that have been "fewer" words?) I'll stick with the "less" which has the advantage of being perfect English despite what some ignoramuses will tell you.

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It's remarkable that Porsche has never heard "might could" used, but I think has a good handle on its meaning. I'm a northerner living in NC and "might could" seems to come in handy here when you are capable of doing something, but don't want to commit to doing it. I have read that it was common generations ago in England.

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I'm from Central Virginia and I often use "might could" in certain ways of saying its a lot more iffy than definite, and its not of great importance. I dont think its grammatically incorrect. It probably comes from Scotch-Irish or something. Nothing wrong with it.

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@Meade - to be pedantic - Scottish-Irish please. We Scots are very pernickety on this one - Scotch is only for products or things, some would say only three things - Scotch Whisky, Scotch broth and Scotch egg. The people and their language are Scots or Scottish. And if you hear someone ask for 'a Scotch' (meaning a whisky) in Scotland., odds on they're either English or American.

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Perhaps just "possibly" would work as a response.

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As a Midwestern boy living in rural NC, I laughed the first time I heard "might could." We use what grew up with, just like how we eat. I like southern food but cannot have everything fried. Yet, I can't find a good pizza to save my life! Subject to debate, which makes this the greatest country. Unfortunately most people down here generalize me as arrogant because they hear rude generalizations like ones above. Us Yanks like to toy with sarcasm and facetious comments, making us look unhappy and arrogant. Not necessarily so. In Germany I told my friend "it's just beating a dead horse." She replied "Americans do this sort of thing?" Have fun with it.

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I accidentally used this phrase in a meeting today, presenting a solution to some Northerners! I reckon ya'll don't use the term "might could" up north. LOL

A better way to say it is: Possibly! ;)

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voa se fuder seu bonde nerdes
filha da puta

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Might means "Possibly" ! As in, I might be able to do the job.
Could means "Yes, I could do the job"/ A definite answer "Could", not a possible answer, "MIGHT".
Grammatically speaking... THERE IS NO SUCH PHRASE AS "MIGHT/COULD" IN PROPER ENGLISH you stupid SOUTHERN HICK IDIOT"S !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Amazing coincidence, very Baader-Meinhof, but just recently I heard my wife say "...may do." for the first time ever. She was born in the US, but her mother is from the UK. Her mom seemed to think that this was a normal thing to say, but prior to this, I have never heard it. I then heard "...may do." on a UK TV show. I wonder if this is a UK expression and "might could" is a variation on it.

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I'm from NC but lived in CO for a few years and was teased by a co-worker when I used "might could." I have never used it to "gently say" or in any other way say "no." I have always used it in ways such as L Wood suggested or as porsche suggested in that "might" implies something that is not definite, something that is dependent on another set of conditions. A PA co-worker of mine always substituted the word "left" for "let" (allow) which I have heard more than one Pennsylvanian use so I don't think southerners have cornered the market on redundant or poor grammar, regionalism, or idioms. (That's not to pick on folks from PA either. It's just an example.) I wish I always used perfect grammar but am smart enough to know something incorrect is bound to pop out occasionally. Also, if southerners are so stupid, why would northerners EVER want to associate with us and retire in our "neck of the woods"? One of my favorite sayings for a sign says, "I wasn't born here, but I got here as soon as I could." I worked at a southern university and spoke to a mother in New York one day whose son was attending our local university (tuition here at that time for out-of-state students being more affordable than her in-state tuition). She said that he fell in love with our area and had no intention of moving back home. Imagine that! I also realized that my southern accent doesn't deserve to be ridiculed any more than a northern accent or an Irish accent or an English accent. As another responder suggested: let's just enjoy the differences.

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