May - Might

English Grammar - Modal Verbs


May and Might are modal verbs. They can normally be interchanged without a significant difference in meaning however Might often implies a smaller chance of something happening (when expressing possibility).

May and Might

1. To express (future) possibility

There is a chance that something is true or that there is a possibility of something happening.

Note: Might is used more frequently than May in spoken English.

2. To give permission

May not can be used to NOT give permission or to prohibit someone from doing something.

3. To ask for permission

Note: Can is used more frequently than May in spoken English though May sounds more polite.

Note: Might could also be used to request permission but it sounds very old and is not common.

4. May: to talk about typical occurrences

May is used in academic (or scientific) language to refer to things that typically happen in certain situations.

5. Speculate about past actions (May + have + past participle)

6. To express wishes

Uses of the Modal Verbs MAY and MIGHT in English

May as well - Might as well

These are expressions can be used to suggest that you will do something because there is nothing better or more interesting to do.



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See our notes about other Modal Verbs.

See the difference between May be and Maybe in English.


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