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May and might – who knew that two words could create so much confusion when it comes to learning the English language. Yet, these two words do just that.
So what is the difference between may and might? Well, not too much actually.
may = suggests that it is possible that the action will occur
might = that there is an even smaller possibility that the action will happen
Here are some example sentences:
The difference between the two words is very subtle and typically there isn’t too much attention put on when you use one instead of the other. However, that changes if we are using the past tense. Might is the past tense of may, so you should use might when using the past tense (although not everyone does!).
Can and May
Another version of the may/might confusion is may and can. These two words tend to be the bane of a child’s life because almost everyone has been corrected by a teacher or a parent when they used the wrong one.
may = indicates permission –-> May I have a slice of apple pie? (is it allowed for me to eat one)
can = indicates ability –->I can eat six apple pies in a row without throwing up. (I have the physical ability to eat six pies in a row)
If you can remember this dialogue, then you are probably going to remember when to use can and when to use may:
Question from Teenager: Can I paint my room black and white?
Answer from Parent: I’m sure you can, but you may not.