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However drunk he might come home she would always please him / however drunk he would come home she would always please him. Could a native speaker please tell the nuance I can't hear between might and would in the context. Both denote a habitual action in the past . But what's the difference. Thanks .

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  • Neither of those is really an idimatic way of saying what you want. The sentence "he would come home drunk" is idiomatic as is "he would come home very drunk" but the use of 'however drunk he might come home' is not what a native speaker would say. What we would say would be 'However drunk he might be when he came home". Don't ask me why, it's just the normal usage.
    – BoldBen
    Dec 6, 2020 at 14:42
  • However drunk he might have been when he came home,
    – Lambie
    May 5, 2021 at 14:35

2 Answers 2

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might does not really denote habitual action in the past, although in this phrase the meaning of habit touches it because of the second 'would' ('she would always please him').

I would rather connect might with However as they occur in structures like:

However this might affect her family, she will still have to leave.

Might is rather related to the idea of possibility or eventuality, and that in the past, as well. So your first version of the sentence looks like a habitual possibility in the past, if that makes sense, and it is habitual because of the context, not necessarily because of might. I understand something like:

However drunk it would be possible for him to come home, she would always please him.

As for would in your second version of the sentence, I do not think there is any ambiguity there.

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Although the grammar here is a bit odd, the difference in nuance between might and would in this type of conditional is that would generally refers to events that already happened, while might may also include hypothetical events.

In your example sentence, it's possible that he hasn't ever came home drunk yet, but using the might sentence can still make sense if you wanted to say that "even if he does come home drunk, she would still please him".

Using would seems to have a stronger implication of it actually have happened before.

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