May vs Might: Difference and Comparison

Communication is a significant part of our life that we do not notice anytime. We can’t go even one day without 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 English language learners.

Key Takeaways

  1. “May” and “might” are both used to express possibility or permission, but “may” is more formal and definite, while “might” is less definite and more speculative.
  2. “May” is used for present or future possibilities, while “might” is used for past or present possibilities that are less likely.
  3. “May” can also express wishes or hopes, while “might” is used to express hypothetical or imaginary situations.

May vs Might

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

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May vs Might

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 is a hypothetical event, then ‘Might’ is used in the sentence.

Comparison Table

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’ used to express any lesser possibility event.
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 to ask 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 good indicators of happening that event.

So to show the higher probability of the event in a sentence, it is expressed using ‘May’.

It is formally used in different sentences. The use of ‘May’ in sentences makes them 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 an event occurring. 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.

may

What is Might?

Might is also an auxiliary verb. It expresses the lower possibility of an event, asking permission, suggestions, etc. It is a past form of ‘May’ and is used in another context.

If the event lacks factual data or is a hypothetical situation, then ‘Might’ is used in the sentence.

It is used as a past form of ‘May’ to express small probability, report a thought, ask something politely, and give suggestions.

Sometimes it is interchangeably used in place of ‘May,’ which is often incorrect. 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 thoughts, or 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 politely. For example, Might I invite you to my birthday?
  4. It is used for giving suggestions. For example, You might go to the hospital.

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

might

Main Differences Between May and Might

  1. The main difference between ‘May’ and ‘Might’ is that both express the possibility of any event. Still, the first is used for higher possibility, and the latter is used to express lower probability.
  2. ‘May’ is used in actual sentences. On the other hand, ‘Might’ is used for sentences having hypothetical situations.
  3. ‘May’ is used to seek and grant permission formally, but ‘Might’ is used casually to seek permission but not to grant one.
  4. ‘May’ is formally used to give suggestions, whereas ‘Might’ gives suggestions informally.
  5. ‘May’ is also used to express hope or a wish. On the other hand, ‘Might’ is not used in this case.
Difference Between May and Might
References
  1. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/dc0b/ac9b34a8a3ff4ac1aa8edd70c0e00f4651e6.pdf
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/003368828401500208
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