May and might
May and might are two very similar modal auxiliary verbs. Let’s take a look at these two modal auxiliaries and why we use them in English.
May and might are used to asking for permission
Generally speaking, it is considered very polite and one can use ‘can’ or ‘could’ to express a lesser degree of formality.
- May I leave the class, early sir?
- Might I come?
- I wonder if you might consider letting me use your headphones.
“Wonder if” is a very common English expression, that we use to sound more implicit when asking for permission or a favour. For example,
- I was wondering if you might be able to help me.
We use may and might when we want to send out our wishes and hopes
- May God be with you.
- May you both live in peace and harmony.
- May she rest in peace.
- May the new year bring you all happiness.
Note that may in this sense usually goes at the beginning of the sentence.
For making suggestions, requests, and criticisms
- ”I can’t find the electric department anywhere”. Well, you might want to consider going to the fifth floor”.
- You might ask before taking my things, please.
- You may have mentioned that she was here, but I wouldn’t ever have believed you.
We use may and might to express possibility or chance
- It’s very likely that we may go to New York next week.
- I might get a new friend very soon!
- Jerome may well travel to Madrid next week.
Take note, that there is no past form of ‘may‘ and ‘might‘. We choose rather, to use the form ‘could/couldn’t’ to express the meanings of ‘may’ and ‘might’ in the past.
- I couldn’t ask for directions.
- I couldn’t travel to Madrid last week, something came up.
Modal auxiliary verbs:
- Articles (a/an, the, zero article)
- Pronouns: subject, object and possessive
- Question tags
- English conditionals
- Interrogatives in English
- Phrasal verbs
- Prefixes and suffixes
- Reported and direct speech
- Punctuation: apostrophes, colons, semi-colons, commas, dashes, full stops, question marks, exclamation marks, and quotation marks
- Numbers: cardinal, ordinal, and Roman numbers
- The verb: “get”
- ‘Get’ vs. ‘go’ and ‘got’ vs. ‘gotten’
- Copular verbs
- Cleft sentences
- Subjunctive in English
- Vulgar and taboo in English
- Split infinitive
- Emphasis with inversion
- Gerunds in English
- To + infinitive
- Bare infinitive
- British and American spelling