What Are May and Might?
'May' and 'might' are modal verbs in English that are used to express possibility or probability. These two can be used interchangeably but they have a subtle difference.
Like other modal verbs in English grammar, 'may' and 'might' can be used in both negative statements and questions. It's important to note that these modal verbs are always followed by the base form of the verb. Look at the following examples:
As you can see, the modal is at the beginning of the questions.
'Mightn't' and 'mayn't' are contractions of 'might not' and 'may not', respectively. They are sometimes used in informal conversations. However, in formal English, it is generally recommended to use the full form of the modal verb followed by 'not' instead of the contractions.
As mentioned earlier, there is a subtle difference in the way 'may' and 'might' function in specific contexts. Pay attention to the list below:
- Talking About Possibility
- Asking for or Giving Permission
- Expressing Wishes
Talking About Possibility
While both express possibility or probability, 'may' is generally used to express a higher degree of probability or a more likely possibility, while 'might' is used to express a lower degree of probability or a less likely possibility. Look at the following examples :
Asking for or Giving Permission
Both 'may' and 'might' can be used to ask for permission from someone or give permission to someone in a polite and formal manner.
Remember not to use might when giving permission to someone.
might come in. → you
One of the uses of 'may' is to express wishes or desires. Keep in mind that 'might' is not typically used to express wishes or desires. Study the following examples carefully:
As you can see, the modal verb comes at the beginning of the sentence.
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