Might vs Can: Difference and Comparison

You might, and ignorant can, wonder what the difference between the phrases Might and Can is. In that case, the Might is used to express the possibility of a scene, while the Can is defined as something that can do.

Key Takeaways

  1. Can refer to the ability or capacity to do something, while it might refer to a possibility or probability of something happening.
  2. Can is used to express certain certainty, while might is used to express uncertainty or doubt.
  3. Can is used to talk about present or future situations, while might is more commonly used to talk about past situations or hypothetical scenarios.

Might vs Can

Might is used when you ask for a request or permission, while time can is used when you can do something. Furthermore, ‘might’ denotes the possibility and ‘can’ to the ability or capability to do a thing. 

Might vs Can

Might is the past tense of the verb may. It is used in a sentence to ask permission or a request. It refers to possibility, license, and liberty politely.

On the other hand, the term can is the present tense of the verb could. The verb can is the ability to do something physically or mentally.

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison Might Can 
Meaning Might is a verb and past tense that may express a request or permission to do any action- the ability or power to do the act. Can is a verb and future tense of ‘could,’ which implies something or someone has the right to the action. The word ‘can’ is allowing a person or a thing to do the act.
Used inThe verb might be applied to a sentence to ask for a request or permission. The verb ‘can’ is used in a sentence when someone or something can do 
Introduction Before the invention of the word ‘might,’ in old English termed might as may-ed-physical strength, later in 1848 named might as the past tense of may.The word can is derived from Middle English Can- to know-how or able to do the task. 
TenseIt might follow past and future participles, which discuss past possibilities and future probabilities.The past tense for can is Could. The present tense of Can is termed as positive can and negative Cannot. There is no future tense for Can, but expressed as “I Can.”
Synonyms Strength, vigour, brawn, sinew, power, and energy ‘Could be credible, conceivable, obtainable, and feasible
Example The prosecutor used all his might to bring out the innocents from hell.I can study for 8 hours straight without any distractions. 

What is Might?

As mentioned earlier, ‘might’ is the past tense of the word may. The verb ‘might’ has many meanings.

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Over time, it is used in sentences that express the possibility of something that will happen or to be done eventually. On the other hand, it is a polite way of asking for approval to do something.

Plus, it is applied in sentences to compare two fundamentally different statements. Lastly, it is the root of the term mighty, which refers to the words power, strength, or force of a person. 

For instance, “I think this article might help me to overcome my difficulties of understanding the difference between the term ‘can’ and ‘might’.” Here, you are politely expressing your thoughts or suggestions.


What is Can?

Coming to the second part, the term has been used since the nineteenth century, with the definition of the ability to do something. The term ‘can’ is the present tense of the verb could. 

The ‘can’ is used to express the ability to do something physically or mentally. Also, it symbolises the possibility and probability of circumstances that are permitted to be.

Indeed, ‘can’ is accepted when conversing with friends or colleagues. Not to mention, ‘can’ refers to a container used to preserve things.

For instance, “I can understand it”.


Main Differences Between Might and Can

  1. The word might indicate doing any physical activity determining the strength and energy you have invested in a particular task. On the other hand, the verb ‘Can’ knows how to do an activity that determines a person’s mindset in doing the task.
  2. Might has no tenses but applies past and future participle, giving past and future possibilities. The word ‘Can’ have past and present- can and could, but doesn’t have a future tense.
  3. Both verbs follow different synonyms for Might- strength, brawn, energy, power and sinew. Furthermore, Can has the synonyms of Credible, feasible, capability, obtain and could be.
  4. Might is used in case of doing anything or asking for permission, whereas Can is used to age in a known act voluntarily or involuntarily.
  5. An example of Might is “I might start earning”; the verb, Can is “I can go myself”.
Difference Between Might and Can
  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1522983
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3765669
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Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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23 thoughts on “Might vs Can: Difference and Comparison”

  1. Ironic how ‘can’ isn’t actually included in the ‘might vs can’ section, yet is presented in the ‘what is can’ section.

  2. This article very clearly distinguishes between ‘might’ and ‘can’. The etymology of these words is also interesting.


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