In this lesson, we will study the two forms of the verb ‘May’ (May & Might) and their usage. These are two words that you will be using a lot when you’re talking.
May is used to ask for a permission in a polite way. For example:
- May I borrow your bicycle?
- May we go out?
- May I have another meal, please?
- May I go to my room now?
- May I take this chair?
- May I sit down?
And May can be used in the answer for these questions. For example:
- You may not borrow it!
- No, you may not.
Important note: May is very polite and formal. If you want to replace it with something more informal, you can say “can” instead. For example:
- Can we go out?
- Can I sit down?
May is also used when we talk about something that can happen. For example:
- it may rain this evening.
- I may go to France this summer.
- He may come around now.
- It may be too late to go outside.
- It may be OK.
- I don’t know, maybe.
The difference between “may be” and “maybe” is that “may be” is an adverb and it modifies the word that comes after it. “Maybe” just means “perhaps”.
As for Might, it’s slightly different from May when we are talking about something that can happen. May talks about possibilities that are more likely. For example “it may rain” sounds more possible than “it might rain”. So a sentence with “might” sounds less possible. The difference is very subtle. Let’s look at some examples of “might”.
- It might rain this evening.
- He might come with us.
- I might go to the party.
- They might stop at the supermarket.
- He might get married soon.
- Can you check the door? It might be open.
Keep in mind that “might” talks about something has a low possibility compared to “may”.
May have and Might have are used to talk about an event that could possibly have happened in the past or have just happened right now. The status of the event is not certain. For example:
- He may have been here.
- She might have arrived by now.
- They may have become lost.
- We might have a problem.
- You may have lied to me.
- I might have lied to you.
You can also “may have” and “might have” in the negative. For example:
- I may not have come if you didn’t prepare food.
- He might not have been here without you.
Let’s do some exercises with what we have learned already. Fill the gaps with “may”, “may not”, “might” and “might not”.
- You _____ enter the house with your shoes on!
- He _____ be awake right now. It’s 6 am.
- Your friend _____ come also. We still have space.
- I _____ have a good idea, I’m not sure.