Is there a difference between "may" and "might"? These words have a similar meaning and are usually used to talk about a possibility or to politely ask for permission. In this lesson, you’ll learn how these words differ from each other and how to use them correctly. I’ll teach you the common usages of "may" and "might" and show you examples of how they are used in sentences and expressions. I’ll also discuss "maybe" and "may be"—English learners and even native speakers often get confused with these. After watching, take the quiz to make sure you’ve understood everything! https://www.engvid.com/may-or-might/
Hi. I’m Gill at www.engvid.com and today the lesson is about the two words "may" and "might", and I know these can be a little bit confusing because they are connected. "May" and "might" come from the same verb, but it’s a rather strange verb that is only used in certain ways. So, I’m just going to give you a few examples to show how these words are actually used in sentences and in different situations.
So, starting with "may", which as you know, is also the name of a month, it can be a woman’s name, but it’s also a verb. And it’s used in two main different ways. It’s used to express something that is possible, a possibility of something happening; and it can also be used differently to ask permission in a polite way, to say: "May I do something?" It’s more polite than saying: "Can I" or "Could I". "Could I" is polite, "Can I" is less polite, but "May I" is the really nice, polite way of asking for something.
Okay, so let’s have a look first of all at "may" used to express something possible, a possibility. So, first of all: I’ve lost my gloves. I can’t find my gloves that go on my hands. So I say to my friend: "Oh, I can’t find my gloves." And my friend replies: "Do you think you may have dropped them in the street?" Okay. So I was walking through the street with my friend, we have arrived home. "Do you think you may have dropped them in the street? Is that possible that you dropped them somewhere?" So, that’s possibility.
Okay. And again, going out again, so in this colder weather, my friend says: "You’d better take a coat - it may get cold later." If we’re going out in the daytime, but we’re going to be out in the evening as well when it gets colder, so: "You’d better take a coat." Good advice. "Take a coat. It may get cold later." It’s possible it will get cold later and you’ll need to put your coat on. Okay?
And then finally for these examples of what is possible, I say to my friend: "Was that John who just walked by? Someone walked by, was that John?" And my friend replies: "It may have been. I’m not sure." Because my friend didn’t really see. It may have been, but I’m not really sure. So, possibly. Possibly it was John. I’m not 100% sure.
Okay, so those are three examples of this first meaning of "may". And then just two examples of asking permission using "may" in a polite way. If I don’t have a pen, I can say to someone: "May I borrow your pen, please?" Okay. "To borrow" is just to have for a short time, use it, give it back. Okay. "May I borrow your pen, please?" That’s all very polite. "May I", "please". Okay?
And then finally, somebody asks you a question and it’s maybe quite a complicated thing. You can’t decide. They invite you to something, you can’t decide: Yes, no, not sure. You need to think about it. So, you reply: "I can’t decide at the moment - may I have a few days to think about it?" Okay? And hopefully the other person is willing to give you time to think. It might be a very serious decision, so: "May I have a few days? Give me some time to think about it."
Okay, so that’s the two main meanings for "may". We’ll now move on to look at "might". Okay, so moving on to "might". It’s similar in a way, similar to the first meaning of "may", meaning possible. Okay? But the feeling with "might" is that it’s a little bit less likely to be true. It’s more remote, less possible. There’s more doubt about it. Okay? Just slightly more doubt.
So let’s have a look at some examples.
Okay, so I might say: "I don’t feel well." And my friend might say: "Oh dear - do you think it might be something you’ve eaten? Some food you’ve eaten. Do you think it might be, possibly?" With some doubt. Maybe she cooked the dinner so she doesn’t want to think it was anything she cooked. So: "Do you think it might be?" Okay?
Another example, someone asks: "Where are you going for your holidays?" And I might reply: "We haven’t decided yet, but we might go to Italy." It’s possible, possible, but not definite. "We might go to Italy."
Another example, you’re waiting for your friend to arrive, Anna. "Anna hasn’t arrived yet - do you think she might have forgotten?" the arrangement to meet. "Do you think she might have forgotten?" It’s not… It’s not like her to forget, so there’s a lot of doubt there. "She might have forgotten, but mm." Okay?