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How to form tag questions with may/might?

Polar bears may / might die of starvation, may / might not they?

or

Polar bears may / might die of starvation, may / might they not?

2

Not is placed at the end of a tag question, so the correct option would be the second.

Polar bears may / might die of starvation, may / might they not?

You can also contract the tag, in which case it would be:

Polar bears might die of starvation, mightn't they?

  • Can we say "..., mayn't they? – Mido Mido Dec 23 '17 at 13:21
  • No. You can contract modals like can and will and might (i.e. can't they /won't they/mightn't they) but "may" does not contract, so it has to be "may they not?" – Curtis White Jan 1 '18 at 20:07
  • I've heard it's dialectical. Is it true? – Mido Mido Jan 2 '18 at 7:15
  • Turns out it may be dialectical. I found mayn't in a dictionary as a contraction of may not, but I've never in my life seen it or heard it. The dictionary listed it as a rare, outdated form. You can use it, but it will likely sound odd to most English speakers. Mayn't can be found in some well known English literature, but the most recent reference I can find is from 1930. – Curtis White Jan 9 '18 at 21:18
  • 1
    A scholarly paper here (HTTPS://web.stanford.edu/~zwicky/ZPCliticsInfl.pdf) shows that mayn't was out of common use by the 1980s, likely much earlier. – Curtis White Jan 9 '18 at 21:27

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