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As you might expect, I did not take Mr Farraday's suggestion at all seriously that afternoon, regarding it as just another instance of an American gentleman's unfamiliarity with what was and what was not commonly done in England.

Can might here mean certainly? Or it has its usual sense, that is probably?

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3 Answers 3

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I believe the phrase is idiomatic, and the expression simply means "as expected," or "as can be reasonably expected." A synonym would be unsurprisingly, while a similar idiom would be "it's no surprise that..."

As you might expect, typically the bigger the overall operating budget, the higher the average salary.

The class description starts out with the word class, as you might expect, and the name of the class.

As you might expect, someone who has had just one or two late payments typically looks better to lenders than someone who has had a dozen.

One book mention that the phrase can help put two people "on the same side of the fence":

Helpful Phrase #1: “As you might expect”
This little gem suggests that you and your customer share a worldview. It puts you both on the same side of the fence. It also allows you to share information with the customber, while suggesting "I know that you already know this."

I think might gets used in this phrase because it sounds more polite and less presumptuous than, say, "As you would surely expect." For all practical purposes, that phrase would pretty much mean the same thing, but might is gentler, and allows for the possibility that the other person might actually be surprised instead.

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+1. It also means "it is obvious from common sense that..." –  Matt Jan 19 '14 at 8:08
@Matt, it can also express shared knowledge rather than common sense. For example if we both know Bob is hot-tempered, I might say, "As you might expect, telling Bob how silly his bow tie looks led to some shouting." –  The Photon Jan 20 '14 at 17:07

The phrase means it would be reasonable for somebody to expect something, and they may or may not expect it.

It does not mean they certainly expect it, because you don't usually know with certainty what another person does or doesn't expect.

While in some cases it could be implied that there's a high probability that the other person expects it, even that is not always the case. The phrase could be used in the sense of, "As you might expect, if you considered the matter carefully, ...", with the speaker believing the other person hasn't actually thought enough about the situation to have formed an expectation.

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It has one of its usual modal meanings—expressing that something is epistemically less certain.

  1. As you expect, ...
  2. As you might expect, ...

The first statement sounds certain.
The second statement sounds less certain.

In this case, expressing uncertainty makes sense. The author can't be certain about what the reader expects; they can only express a strong possibility that a reader might expect the following statement. And this implies that the following statement is reasonable to expect, which is the real purpose of those four words.

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Thx for your answer.What do you mean by "epistemically less certain"? Could you rephrase it? –  Juya Jan 19 '14 at 23:02
@Juya Just "less certain" would do. I included the word epistemic because this is often called epistemic modality, one of the types of meaning that modal auxiliaries can express. Here's how Huddleston and Pullum describe it in A Student's Introduction to English Grammar, p.54: "Epistemic modality expresses meanings relating primarily to what is necessary or possible given what we know (or believe): the term derives from the Greek word for 'knowledge'." –  snailboat Jan 19 '14 at 23:32

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