May and Might

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May and Might

Post  axel on Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:09 pm

May and might

May and might are modal auxiliary verbs, just like can, must and ought.
May is used to ask for and give permission:

• "May I shut the window?"
— "Yes, of course you may."
— "No, you may not." Mad (This sounds strict and unfriendly.)
— "I'd rather you didn't. I'm so hot." (This sounds friendlier!)

• "Visitors may not park on the grass."

May is rather formal. Can and could can also be used to ask for permission in a less formal style.

May and might are also used to talk about possibility:

• "Let's ask that man. He might know where the station is."
• "Let's ask that man. He may know where the station is."


• "Why isn't Rachel answering her phone?"
— "She might be in the shower."
— "She might not hear it ringing."
— "She may be out."
— "She may not have it switched on."

Let's have a look at what happens to may or might when you express possibility in different tenses:

Tense // Question // Answer with "may" or "might"

Present simple // Is he ill? // He might be ill.

Does she like roses? // She might like roses.

Past simple // Was he ill? // He might have been ill.

Did he really say that? // He might have said that.

Present continuous // Is he looking at me? // He might be looking at you.

Past continuous // Was he looking at me? // He might have been looking at you.

Present perfect // Has he been ill? // He might have been ill.


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axel
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