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(1) I had an epiphany about what my life might actually be like a few years from now, if I don't set my priorities.

(2) I had an epiphany about what my life may actually be like a few years from now, if I don't set my priorities.

(3) I had an epiphany about what my life might actually be like a few years from now, if I didn't set my priorities.

Let's say the epiphany the speaker is talking about, the speaker had earlier today. Having said that, which of the above sentences are grammatically correct, and what's the difference in their meaning?

  • The first one is correct, since the first clause is referring to the future, and the second clause refers to the present. – Inazuma Apr 2 '16 at 15:35
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may and might express probability. Most people agree that something that may happen is more probable than something that might happen. If you really want to push the limits of probability, you can say just might happen.

If you want to talk about a situation that could occur, you use don't: for example,

If you don't stop humming that song, I shall scream!

If you want to talk about a hypothetical situation- one that could never happen, you use didn't: you might say:

I the sun didn't come up tomorrow, it would be very dark all day.

So, the two sentences with don't are both valid. For may or might, the choice would depend on how scary your epiphany was. If it involved dying in the gutter of a heroin overdose, might is the right word. If it involved not having money for cigarettes, may is the right word.

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All three sentences are correct. Two different topics in one:

Probabilities:

May: 50% probable
Might: 20% probable

Real and unreal/imaginary situations:

If I don't set my priorities, it will happen --> Real
If I didn't set my priorities, it would happen --> Imaginary

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