Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with a passion. Learn More

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.

Positive_Anymore Dec-20-2005

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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.

Twyla Dec-07-2006

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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.

Steven_L._Sheffield May-16-2006

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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.

Avrom Dec-08-2005

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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.

reida Dec-07-2007

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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.

Jennifer3 Jan-11-2009

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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.

Johnny1 Feb-29-2008

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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.

grantwellington Jul-25-2010

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

relicpro Feb-05-2009

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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.

porsche Dec-08-2005

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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)

liz.wood Sep-22-2010

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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!

TJ Dec-11-2006

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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.

tjf Jan-22-2008

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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.

porsche Oct-10-2010

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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.

Poncho_Pilot Dec-17-2005

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

Speak Sep-23-2007

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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.

Jennifer3 Jan-11-2009

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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.

Jason1 Dec-07-2005

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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."

porsche Dec-20-2005

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yankees exhaust my patience.

redneck_in_your_mind Dec-08-2008

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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.

partyisrigged Apr-15-2009

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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.

douglas.bryant Jul-25-2010

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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.

porsche Dec-12-2006

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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!

loretta Apr-27-2008

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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."

JeffinNYC May-17-2011

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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.

Avrom Feb-09-2006

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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.

grantwellington Jan-28-2010

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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!!!

CeCe1 Jul-09-2008

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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.

pje Feb-19-2011

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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.

SusieQ Nov-10-2011

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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.

MSfeller Nov-14-2011

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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.

NakedReporta Feb-18-2012

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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*

Drakey Feb-01-2006

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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.

faithful567 Jan-18-2011

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I might could say something about snobby grammarians...bless their hearts...but I won't.

As a well educated native of southern Appalachia (BA in English; PhD in Education), I can say with confidence that might could is mighty useful modal construction that conveys nuance and a sophisticated appreciation of the historical English, at least as spoken by the Scotch Irish settlers who populated these parts.

jeb Jun-26-2016

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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.

reddiware Jul-25-2010

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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.

grantwellington Aug-31-2010

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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!

Miss Mary Beth Jan-04-2012

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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".

Mar Rojo Feb-21-2012

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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! ;)

AshleySoSouthern Oct-16-2013

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I am from all over, but my parents are from Idaho, so I'm not sure the regions identified in previous posts have a monopoly on the form. Anyway, I inherited "might could" from one of parents, and find it very useful. The way I use it, it deflates the less cooperative "might," alone as in "I might do that," which sounds like a teenager challenging an authority figure.

"I might could do that" suggests a willingness to try rather than an insouciant "I might," as in "if I feel like it."

I have a BA in English and an MA in teaching English as a Second Language. If one of my international students used "might could," I would be over-joyed. There are so many worse "infractions" with modals. Believe me, I see them every day.

vgb Jun-29-2016

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Or simply, “I’m not sure but I might." But all three are grammatically fine. "Might could" is a survivor from the Scots (and old Norm/Norse) that probably is part of the Southern Mountain Dialect and the Scots-Irish heritage. See Wiktionary.

sally1 Jul-07-2017

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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).

porsche Jan-22-2008

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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".

justin2 Jan-26-2008

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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.

anonymous4 Apr-28-2008

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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

reddiware Jul-25-2010

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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.

Sarah Jane Aug-01-2011

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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.

Meade Jan-29-2014

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I see nothing wrong with this term. Normal daily expression. How about Used to could as an expression. We use that also.

Dwaro Dec-06-2016

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One issue that may be relevant is that "could" also implies possibility or uncertainty in some cases. If you ask me if I will edit a spreadsheet for you and I respond that I will, then there is no uncertainty. If I respond that I could, there is an implication of uncertainty. If I were to include both "might" and "could", I am using two words that both suggest uncertainty.

With regard to a previous comment, it is inaccurate to suggest that individuals who use a term when speaking will not use that same term in their writing. While it may be less common to use some informal or regional terms in writing, I have seen many students and co-workers use informal terms in their writing.

mpr1104 Jan-18-2020

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voa se fuder seu bonde nerdes
filha da puta

rodrigo_hassan Jun-16-2008

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Perhaps just "possibly" would work as a response.

schving Oct-08-2010

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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.

aanin Apr-23-2012

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I just think this may be slang.

boom Apr-23-2012

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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.

Warsaw Will Jan-30-2014

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A lot of my family says this and it has a very specific meaning. "I might" means "maybe I will." "I could" means either "yes I can" or "I could but maybe I won't" (depending on emphasis).

But "I might could" is different than both; it means the same as "I might be able to," which is different from both of the other phrases. It's a colloquialism, not bad grammar.

Carma Jan-12-2019

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Might could is from the ULSTER-SCOTS or SCOTCH IRISH, not from Scotland and yes Scots langage/leid can also be written and is known in legal documentation as "Scotch". Anyone who says otherwise is an eejit.

Scots Leid Jul-30-2020

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@Warsaw Will
Ulster-Scotch, Scotch/Scots-Irish. Nane o tha twa o thaim sez onyhin anent Scotlan ava.

Scots Leid Jul-30-2020

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I lived in the American South for 9 years. I came to appreciate the niche filled by might could. No other wording conveys that a course of action is both feasible and recommendable: "Son, you might could apologize to your ma."
For more on might could and other double modals, see

user111571 Aug-22-2022

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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 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

David Pratt Feb-05-2012

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


"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.

rmensies Feb-24-2012

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How about "maybe", "possibly" or "perhaps"? You know, the conditional tense mighta coulda been an option here...

Word Mar-05-2017

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“I might can…” or some such is a holdover from the elegant Elizabethan English of our Southerners’ forefathers. While being from northern Ohio, I honor them for this piece of Southern culture!

Motorman Dec-16-2022

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How about “Might could have” which is taken to mean— “there was a chance that I might have, but now it’s too late”

user111984 May-20-2023

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"Might could" is part of my regional dialect.

As a response to "are you going to do it" I would respond "might could" or "I might could." The beginning of the originally listed response, "I'm not sure," isn't necessary because "might could" implies uncertainty about the speakers involvement.

I like another comment on here where "might could" is expanded to "it might be the case that I could." This is how I've understood and used the phrase.

emzy Mar-27-2024

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