May or Might

May or Might


May and might are used in similar manners and when used, neither will be wrong. They are used when there is talk of possibility. Some grammarians believe that it is better to use might when something is less likely to happen and may when it is more likely to happen.

E.g.

Since he has a problematic vision, it may be a little difficult for him to drive after dark.

Or, Since he has a problematic vision, it might be a little difficult for him to drive after dark.

If you talk about the past, both may and might are used.

E.g.

As he was ill, learning for the test may have been difficult for Hari.

Or, As he was ill, learning for the test might have been difficult for Hari.

Might have is more commonly used for statements about things that could have happened but didn’t

E.g.

If I had remained in Delhi, I might not have done well in my new company.

Or, I might have gone to a better school in Delhi than the one I am studying in, in Jaisalmer.

May is used to ask permission and to make polite suggestions.

E.g.

May I can come in?

Or, May I help you?

Test your understanding - Choose the correct sentence from the pair of sentences given below

1.
a. If we had left home earlier, we might not have missed the train.
b. If we had left home earlier, we may not have missed the train.

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ANSWER: a. If we had left home earlier, we might not have missed the train.



2.
a. I told Satish that we may have done better in the test if we had studied harder.
b. I told Satish that we might have done better in the test if we had studied harder.

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ANSWER: b. I told Satish that we might have done better in the test if we had studied harder.



3.
a. Can I go outside and take this call?
b. May I go outside and take this call?

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ANSWER: b. May I go outside and take this call?



4.
a. The teacher informed us that we might be in trouble with the Principal because we broke the window pane.
b. The teacher informed us that we can be in trouble with the Principal because we broke the window pane.

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ANSWER: a. The teacher informed us that we might be in trouble with the Principal because we broke the window pane.



5.
a. Is it possible for me to visit the washroom?
b. May I visit the washroom, please?

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ANSWER: b. May I visit the washroom, please?


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