May vs. Might In English Grammar

Difference Between May and Might In English Grammar

The May and Might be modal auxiliary verbs which must be very well understood from the point of view of their senses and usage. May is used in general to speak about possibility as in sentences:

1. We may move to Paris next year.

2. May I have more flowers?

In both sentences given above you can see that auxiliary verb ‘may ‘ is used for expressing of possibility. In the first sentence he speaks about the possibility of moving to Paris and in the second sentence he speaks about the possibility of getting more flowers.

Auxiliary verb ‘Might ‘ on the other hand of expresses restricted possibility as in sentences:

1. I think that it might be cold tonight.

2. I wonder if I might ask you for a date.

In both sentences given above you can see that modal auxiliary verb ‘might’ expresses restricted possibility. In the first sentence he speaks about a distant possibility of change in temperature and in the second sentence he speaks about restricted possibility of asking for a date.

Although might and may can be used to express the intention of asking permission but in different ways. ‘Might’ shows the hesitation in asking for permission while there is hardly any hesitation in asking permission by using ‘may’.

Notice the following sentences:

1. May I switch on the radio?

2. You may not leave the class until asked to do so..

In the first sentence verb ‘may ‘ indicates to get permission. The person tries to get permission to switch on the radio. In the second sentence the students are not allowed to leave the class without permission. There is no element of hesitancy in asking for permission or where the permission is granted.

Notice these sentences also:

1. I wonder if I might have a little more cheese.

2. You might watch television.

In the first sentence permission was asked with hesitancy. In the second sentence permission was granted with hesitancy. It is one of the main difference between the use of both modal auxiliary verbs ‘may ‘ and ‘might ‘ when they aim to get permission.

‘Might’ is used with more conditions like ‘If you took the right medication you might not have been so weak.’ Here ‘might’ is used with condition.

 

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