Posted by: Jack Henry | December 31, 2015

Editor’s Corner: 2015 Trouble Spots 5, 6, and 7

Hello and welcome to a winter wonderland where you will be schooled on the sometimes tricky combinations of the following:

· may and might

· if and whether

· since and because

I have borrowed these explanations from Litreactor, by Jon Gingerich. He has some harsh, boozy examples for you this New Year’s Eve. I must confess, I did a little bit of formatting and replace all of the e.g.s with “for example.”

5. May and Might

“May” implies a possibility. “Might” implies far more uncertainty. “You may get drunk if you have two shots in ten minutes” implies a real possibility of drunkenness. “You might get a ticket if you operate a tug boat while drunk” implies a possibility that is far more remote. Someone who says, “I may have more wine” could mean he/she doesn’t want more wine right now, or that he/she “might” not want any at all. Given the speaker’s indecision on the matter, “might” would be correct.

6. Whether and If

Many writers seem to assume that “whether” is interchangeable with “if." It isn’t. “Whether” expresses a condition where there are two or more alternatives. “If” expresses a condition where there are no alternatives. For example:

· I don’t know whether I’ll get drunk tonight. [KC – There are two alternatives that I’m not sure of. I’m not sure
whether I will or whether I won’t get drunk tonight.]

· I can get drunk tonight if I have money for booze. [KC – There is only one way I’m getting drunk tonight: I’ll get drunk
if I have money for booze.]

7. Since and Because

“Since” refers to time. “Because” refers to causation. For example:

· Since I quit drinking, I’ve married and had two children.

· Because I quit drinking, I no longer wake up in my own vomit.
[KC – Sorry, folks. These aren’t my examples. I don’t have kids and I never wake up in, well, you know.]

Have a safe holiday!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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