What Are May and Might?
In English grammar, we have another pair of modal verbs that are called 'may' and 'might'. These two can be used interchangeably but with a slight difference. They are used in different contexts.
Just like other modal verbs in English grammar, these two modal verbs can be used in both negative statements and questions. Remember that these modal verbs come with the base form of the verb. Look at the following examples:
Be careful when you want to use these two modal verbs in negative statements.
Mightn't and mayn't can be used in informal conversation but never in formal English.
As you can see, the modal is at the beginning of the questions.
As it was mentioned above, this pair of modal verbs perform differently in specific contexts. Pay attention to the list below:
- Talking About Possibility
- Asking for or Giving Permission to Someone
- Expressing Wishes
Talking About Possibility
Both of these modal verbs are used to talk about possibilities. However, note that with using 'might', chances are smaller and it is less likely to happen than when using 'may'. Look at the following examples below:
Asking for or Giving Permission to Someone
Both of these modal verbs can be used when asking for permission from someone or giving permission to someone in formal language politely.
Remember not to use might when giving permission to someone.
might come in. → you
One of the uses of 'may' is to talk about wishes or dreams. Please note that 'might' cannot be used here. Study the following examples carefully:
As you can see, the modal verb comes at the beginning of the sentence.