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Take an umbrella in case it may rain. can anybody tell me why this statement was wrong? and the right one is

Take an umbrella in case it rains.

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  • I've flagged this for possible migration to English Language Learners. Nov 2, 2018 at 5:28
  • 2
    Wrong in what way? There's a double 'contingency' (in case + may), but that doesn't make it ungrammatical. Arguably, it says something different from "... in case it rains" or more clearly, "... in case it definitely rains", but if the "in case" part is trying to express a contingency on another contingency, there's nothing wrong with it (it's just unusual when advising people to take umbrellas). If you're talking about idiomatic expressions as opposed to grammatical vs ungrammatical sentences, then use "... in case it rains".
    – Lawrence
    Nov 2, 2018 at 5:38
  • So … please edit your question to clarify the context and intent of the expression, as well as the metric/basis/rule/etc used to judge the sentence 'wrong'.
    – Lawrence
    Nov 2, 2018 at 5:41
  • @Lawrence The redundancy is what the OP has not seen because of not studying the meanings and usage of in case and may. "Wrong" for a learner could mean grammatical, structural, semantic or even idiomatic error.
    – Kris
    Nov 2, 2018 at 8:27
  • @Lawrence! I pick this question up from grammar exercise portion. So there is no content around it. Nov 3, 2018 at 9:15

2 Answers 2

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Take an umbrella in case it may rain.

It is wrong because - and only because - it goes against common sense.

You need an umbrella only when it rains.
You take an umbrella when it may rain, so that you have an umbrella with you in case it rains.

To suggest you take an umbrella in case it may rain implies that you will need an umbrella when it may rain; and we all know that's not true: you only need it if it actually does rain.


Note that in some circumstances the advice could make perfect sense; for example, if you're traveling abroad and wondering whether to pack an umbrella.

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  • Anything that goes against common sense need not be incorrect. But something that is illogical always is. Redundancy is a structural/ compositional error.
    – Kris
    Nov 2, 2018 at 8:29
  • @Kris "Redundancy is considered a vital feature of language. It shields a message from possible flaws in transmission (unclarity, ambiguity, noise). In this way, it increases the odds of predictability of a message's meaning. On the phonological level, the redundancy of phonological rules may clarify some vagueness in spoken speech; It shields a message from possible flaws in transmission (unclarity, ambiguity, noise). In this way, it increases the odds of predictability of a message's meaning." Pinker, Steven The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language (1994) p. 178 Nov 3, 2018 at 10:09
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meta: Please look up in case and may in a good dictionary.

Using both in case and may is a redundancy, so the sentence is logically incorrrect.

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