In English Grammar, the words may and might are the modal auxiliary verbs, which are used in sentences with other verbs to express tenses, voice, mood etc. As they both reflect the possibility of any event, there are instances when people use them interchangeably. It happens due to lack of proper understanding regarding how, when and where to use them. May can be used when there is a strong possibility of happening of an event.
On the contrary, we use might when there are very fewer chances of the occurrence of an event. You can understand this together with the help of an example:
- Astha may be in Jaipur; she might go to Jodhpur.
Here, in the given sentence there is some sort of surety that Astha is in Jaipur. However, there are fewer chances of her going to Jodhpur.
Now, come let’s discuss the difference between may and might in detail.
Content: May Vs Might
|Basis for Comparison||May||Might|
|Meaning||May is a auxiliary verb, used to express a strong possibility of happening of an event, but still it is not certain.||Might is a past form which is used in sentences when there is a possibility of occurrence of an event but to a smaller extent.|
|Alternate meaning||Name of the month||Strength, power|
|Usage||Used in situations which are factual and likely to happen.||Used in situations which are hypothetical and unlikely to happen.|
|Permission||Seeking and granting permission.||Seeking permission.|
|Example||I may be late today.||She might get late to the office.|
Definition of May
May is a modal auxiliary verb which can be used in different senses in different sentences. When we talk about possible events or actions that take place in the future, we use may. To use may, you have to use it with verb’s base form. Now we will discuss, where to use may in sentences:
- First and foremost, may is used to seek or give formal permission:
- May I get the required documents?
- May I ask you something?
- You may leave now.
- Next, it can be used to express the strong possibility of the happening of an event:
- Palak may be in the restaurant with her friends.
- Ajay may go to Australia at the end of this week.
- It can also be used to express a wish or hope:
- May God bless you.
- May you live long.
Definition of Might
Might is also an auxiliary verb and a past participle of may. It is used in a variety of sentences but in a different context. One can use might in the sentences where there is some possibility of occurrence of a future event. Now we will discuss where we can use might in sentences:
- First of all, might is used to signify a small possibility of happening of an event:
- Monika’s parents might be upset to know her result.
- Tarun might be playing cricket.
- It is also used to report something said, thought and asked by someone:
- Aditya said that he might join the army.
- I brought her notebook, as I thought she might come to the class today.
- It can also be used to ask questions or requesting politely:
- I wonder if I might have your pen?
- Might I invite you to the party?
- It is also used to suggest something:
- I think you might try this game one more time.
- You might take the painkiller for a headache.
Key Differences Between May and Might
The difference between may and might be drawn clearly on the following grounds:
- May is a verb used in sentences to show a higher degree of possibility of the happening of an action or event. On the other hand, might is a past participle form of may, which is also used to show the possibility of the occurrence of an event, but only when there is a small degree of possibility.
- While we use may in the sentences which are factual and somewhat possible, might is used in the situation which is hypothetical, and the chances of possibility are quite less.
- You can use may in both seeking and granting formal permission from/to someone. Conversely, you can use might for seeking tentative permission only and not for granting it.
- Please take the car or else you may not be able to reach on time.
- Sunidhi may get the best singer award this year.
- It may take an hour to cover the distance.
- This may be my last visit to India.
- I might go to the hospital to visit my uncle.
- Atul might have lost his phone at the shop.
- She might not have noticed the change in your behaviour.
- Kirti might be working at home.
How to remember the difference
While may is used in a situation where something is possible to happen, but you are not sure about it. On the other hand, might is used when there is a little possibility of the happening of a specific event.