May vs. Must

Difference Between May and Must

The May and Must are two words which create lot of confusion when it comes to their correct use. In fact we should say they are very much different from one another in terms of their meaning and usage.

The word ‘may’ indicates uncertainty. On the other hand the word ‘must’ is used for indicating a meaning similar to word ‘definite’. In other words we can say that ‘must’ indicates definiteness of actions. This is the main difference between these two words.

Look at the two sentences:

1. He may go the market.

2. You must do the work today.

In the first sentence you can see that the word ‘may’ is used in the sense of uncertainty. The sentence would mean that there is a possibility of the person to go to the market but there is no surety. In the second sentence the word ‘ must ‘ is used to show definiteness.

‘Must’ shows compulsion while ‘may’ shows possibility. ‘May’ is usually followed by ‘be’ and ‘well’. For example, ‘you may be right’ and ‘you may well do the work’. These particles are used to emphasize on the task.


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