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Difference between ‘May’ and ‘Might’

May

We can use ‘may’ to ask for permission. However this is rather formal and not used very often in modern spoken English

  • May I borrow your pen?
  • May we think about it?
  • May I go now?

We use ‘may’ to suggest something is possible

  • It may rain later today.
  • I may not have time to do it today.
  • Pete may come with us

Might

We use ‘might’ to suggest a small possibility of something. Often we read that ‘might’ suggests a smaller possibility that ‘may’, there is in fact little difference and ‘might is more usual than ‘may’ in spoken English.

  • She might be at home by now but it’s not sure at all.
  • It might rain this afternoon.
  • I might not have time to go to the shops for you.
  • I might not go.

For the past, we use ‘might have’.

  • He might have tried to call while I was out.
  • I might have dropped it in the street.

May/Might Exercise

It’s time to test what you’ve learned.

1.  I was just wondering whether you ____ be able to help me.

 
 

2 .  ____ God have mercy on your soul.

 
 

3 – You ____ well be right.

 
 

4 – I told them I ____ go if I felt like it, but wasn’t sure.

 
 

5 – Students ____ only borrow four books at a time.

 
 

6 – The examiner says we ____ leave when we’ve finished.

 
 

7 – It ____ be very expensive, but it’s much better than the others.

 
 

8 – I just ____ accept your offer.

 
 

9 – You ____ try asking her for help- she knows her stuff.

 
 

10 – You ____ have told me earlier!

 
 

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