May vs. Might: What’s the Difference?

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May and might – these two words cause a lot of confusion, and you may be unsure about which one to use. In this article, we will help you to understand the differences between the two words so that you can use them properly.

A lot of people use may and might interchangeably when referring to probability or possibility. However, there is a minor difference between the two. 

What Does “May” Mean?

Definition 1: The word may is used to express what is possible or realistic.

Examples

  • My friends may go on vacation this summer.
  • We may lose jobs during this pandemic.
  • I may buy something for my brother.
  • He may get good marks because he studies hard.
  • She may come today. 

Definition 2: Besides this, the word may is also used for expressing a wish.

Examples

  • May God bless you!
  • May his soul rest in peace!

What Does “Might” Mean?

On the other hand, the word might is used to express what seems remotely possible, hypothetical, and counterfactual.

Examples 

  • If I win the lottery, I might buy a house in London.
  • She might be seen every day on the road selling balloons.
  • Do you think Emma might feel left out when the new baby comes?
  • He might own foreign currency the same day.

What Is the Difference Between May and Might?

In short, the word may is used to express situations that are possible or could be factual. In contrast, the word might deals with situations that are hypothetical and did not happen.

You can easily remember that the word might shows less probability than may

Examples

  • It may rain. (Maybe a 50% possibility)
  • It might rain. (Maybe a 30% possibility)

One easy way to remember this distinction is you can remember the phrase “might suggests a lower possibility than may.”   

Might as The Past Tense of May

Another difference between these two words is tense-based. The word may is present tense and might is past tense. In confusing circumstances, you can make the right choice by remembering this fact. The chance of incorrect usage in this context is quite rare.

Examples 

  • She said, ‘I might stand for election.’
  • She asked if she might borrow the car.
  • Emma said, ‘I might come to the office.’
  • He wanted to know if he might come later.
  • She was afraid that someone might recognize her.
  • I wished I might go abroad.
  • The teacher said that when you feel you’re fine, you might come to school.
  • For a moment, I thought she might strike me.

Use of May and Might for Asking Permission

Both may and might can be used to express permission.

Examples

  • May I come in, sir?
  • May I go to the movies tonight?
  • May I borrow your pen?
  • Might I ask for a favor?
  • Might I ask when the show starts?

A lot of writers use may and might interchangeably. However, it’s essential to understand that these terms are different in both usage and grammatical meaning. We hope this post takes off your confusion about may and might.

May Vs Might


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