Difference Between May and Might (With Table)

Communication is a major part of our life that we did not notice anytime. We can’t go even one day without doing communication, and for communication, we require language as a medium. Every language has many confusing words that seem similar but, in reality, are found to be different. Similarly, May and Might are two different words that confused many new learners of the English language.

May vs Might

The main difference between May and Might is that May is used in the present tense and also when there is a high probability of an event, and on the other hand, Might is the past form of May, and it is also used to show the probability of an event but for lower chances.

May is a modal verb used in sentences for a different context. It is used in a present and future tense sentence if any event in a sentence is most likely to happen. It can be judged by observing the event. If the event has sufficient factual data and a reason for its occurrence, then ‘May’ should be used.

Might is also a modal verb, and it is the past form of Might but has many different uses other than using in the past tense at the place of ‘May.’ It is used in the present and future tense if the event is less likely to happen. If the event occurring in the sentence does not have enough factual data, or it is a hypothetical event, then ‘Might’ is used in the sentence.

Comparison Table Between May and Might

Parameters of ComparisonMayMight
Meaning It is a modal verb used to show the strong possibility of any event in the sentence.It is a past form of ‘May’ and used to express any event having lesser possibility.
Possibility It is used for higher probability events.It is used for lower probability events.
Permission It is more formal while asking permission.It is casual for asking permission.
SuggestionIt is formal, authoritative, and has more emphasis.It is informal and has lesser emphasis.
ExampleI may be late for the office.I might buy a Ferrari one day.

What is May?

May is an auxiliary verb. It is used to express possibility, ask or grant permission, and for suggestions. It is used in a sentence if the event has sufficient indicators of happening that event. So to show the higher probability of the event in a sentence, it is expressed by using ‘May’ in the sentence.

It is formally used in different sentences. The use of ‘May’ in sentences makes it more formal and has more emphasis. It is used in sentences to ask permission and also to grant permission. It is also used for giving suggestions. There are many other uses of ‘May’ in sentences.

Uses of ‘May’ in different contexts:-

  1. It is used to give or ask formal permission. For example, You may get leave now.
  2. It is used to express the strong possibility of occurring of an event. For example, Ashok may be in Rajasthan.
  3. It is used to express hope or a wish. For example, May God gives you all you want.

These were just a few examples of uses of ‘May’ in a sentence. Many other uses can be explored by using it in daily life themselves.

What is Might?

Might is also an auxiliary verb. It is used to express the lower possibility of an event, ask permission, suggestions, etc. It is a past form of ‘May’ and used in another context as well. If the event does not have enough factual data or it is a hypothetical situation, then ‘Might’ is used in the sentence.

It is used as a past form of ‘May’ as well as for expressing small probability, to report a thought, to ask something politely, and for giving suggestions. Sometimes it is interchangeably used at the place of ‘May,’ which is not correct many times. There are many other uses of ‘Might’ in the sentence.

Uses and examples of ‘Might’ in different contexts:-

  1. It is used for expressing the little possibility of any event occurrence. For example, Rohan might get scolded for his bad results in exams.
  2. It is used to report thought, something said or asked by someone. For example, Mohan said that he might join a college.
  3. It is used to request or ask a question in a polite manner. For example, Might I invite you to my birthday?
  4. It is used for giving suggestions. For example, You might go to the hospital.

Other than these few examples, ‘Might’ is used in many other sentences as well. It can be learned by exploring and using it in daily life.

Main Differences Between May and Might

  1. The main difference between ‘May’ and ‘Might’ is that both are used to express the possibility of any event, but the first one is used for higher possibility, and the latter one is used to express lower probability.
  2. ‘May’ is used in factual sentences. On the other hand, ‘Might’ is used for sentences having hypothetical situations.
  3. ‘May’ is used to seeking and granting permission formally, but ‘Might’ is used casually to seek permission but not for granting one.
  4. ‘May’ is formally used to give suggestions, whereas ‘Might’ is used to give suggestions informally.
  5. ‘May’ is also used to express hope or a wish. On the other hand, ‘Might’ is not used in this case.

Conclusion

People often use two similar words interchangeably in sentences and did not think about their correct uses. Similarly, ‘May’ and ‘Might’ are two words having the same root words hence give confusion to people while using them in sentences, so it is also used interchangeably many times. There are few differences that everyone should know for the proper usage of these two words.

‘May’ and ‘Might’ are both used to express the probability of an event but to different degrees. ‘May’ is formally used in many sentences, and at the same place, ‘Might’ is used informally in the same sentence. These little points should be considered while using ‘May’ and ‘Might’ in a sentence.

References

  1. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/dc0b/ac9b34a8a3ff4ac1aa8edd70c0e00f4651e6.pdf
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/003368828401500208
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