Should it be may have been or might have been?

When accounts clerk Stella Seah, 46, was told last month (Dec) that she may have been wrongly diagnosed with a more aggressive form HER2-positive breast cancer, she had already received 17 rounds of Herceptin.

Should it be “might” instead of “may”?

Thanks!

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In American English ‘might have been’ and ‘may have been’ are nearly always interchangeable. Both are most commonly used to say that something is possible or probable. Let’s see if @Alan or @Anglophile can see any difference between the two variants.

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Both are in the area of probability. ‘May have been’ means that the probability/possibility is still open whereas ‘’might have been’ means it is now closed and remains purely imaginary. An example -

If someone is late in arrival, you could say - They may have been delayed by the heavy traffic. In other words that could be the reason.
If you have accidentally broken someone’s special vase by dropping it on the floor, the owner could say - You might have been more careful. Clearly nothing can be changed.

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To me, might have been is less probable than may have been.

When we say ‘He may have been busy’, we mean to suggest that his being busy was more likely and possible than when we say ‘He might have been busy’.

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I personally think whether “might have been” and “may have been” can be interchangeable or not, mainly depends on the contexts. For example, in the sentence- you might have been more careful, “might” can not be replaced by “may” because “might have been” refers to a subjunctive mood, but "may have been’ does not. In contrast, in the sentence- that she may have been wrongly diagnosed…, both “may have been” and “might have been” are correct, namely, they can be interchangeable since they both refer to an assumption.

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Clearly they are not interchangeable as I have tried to illustrate, because the meanings are different.

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Hi Alan, apparently there is a difference in the way both constructions are used in American vs. British English as this quote from Merriam Webster shows: What is the difference between may have been and might have been? | Ask The Editor | Learner's Dictionary.

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