Based in Noblesville, Indiana, Curtis writes the syndicated humor column, Grammar Guy. He also likes to write for startups.

Chainsaws and Killer Coconuts

Chainsaws and Killer Coconuts

 Photo by  Wil Stewart  on  Unsplash

Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

Falling coconuts kill an estimated 150 people worldwide every year. Because I don’t want to get killed by a falling coconut, I’m working on a patent for a combination shield/umbrella, which I’m thinking about calling the shumbrella (coming soon to a Bed Bath and Beyond near you). Falling from a height of 80 feet, coconuts can reach speeds of 50 miles per hour. And, even though I haven’t noticed any coconut trees in Indiana (yet), a coconut could fall out of a plane, get shot out of a cannon or spat out of a really intense geyser, make an impact with my head and kill me. It could happen.

What I really want to know is, when talking about my chances of getting killed by a falling coconut, should I use may or might? Is it “I may die as a result of the impact of a falling coconut” or “I might die as a result of the impact of a falling coconut?”

When it comes to may or might, it’s a matter of likelihood. If something may happen, it’s more likely than something that might happen. The incredibly unscientific way I remember which one to use is: may = yay; might = yeah right. As in, may could very well happen (yay) and might has a much smaller probability of occurring (yeah right).

Based on an incredibly small likelihood, I would correctly say I might die as a result of the impact of a falling coconut. As a left-handed person, I’m much more likely to die from operating a product intended for right-handed people. It happens to approximately 2,500 southpaws each year. And, with my poor track record using traditional, right-handed can openers, I would correctly say I may die while improperly operating equipment intended for right-handed users. 

I’m actually a little worried about the statistic about equipment killing lefties. After all, at 10% of the world’s population, our quantities are already limited. Let’s just say I’m unlikely to operate a chainsaw anytime soon; I might use a chainsaw, but I probably won’t.

Do the Brussels Hustle

Do the Brussels Hustle

It’s All Subjunctive

It’s All Subjunctive