Questions and negatives:

We make questions by putting the subject after may/might:
May I …? Could I … Might I …? Etc.

The negative forms are may not and might not..

We use may:

  • when we are not sure about something:

Jack may be coming to see us tomorrow.
Oh dear! It’s half past ten. We may be late for the meeting.
There may not be very many people there.

  • to make polite requests:

May I borrow the car tomorrow?
May we come a bit later?

When we use may not for a refusal it is emphatic:

You may not!
You may not borrow the car until you can be more careful with it.

We use might:

• when we are not sure about something:

I might see you tomorrow.
It looks nice, but it might be very expensive.
It’s quite bright. It might not rain today.

• As the past tense of may for requests:

He asked if he might borrow the car.
They wanted to know if they might come later.

• For very polite requests:

Might I ask you a question?
Might we just interrupt for a moment?

We use may have and might have to show that something has possibly happened now or happened at some time in the past:

It’s ten o’clock. They might have arrived now.[= Perhaps they have arrived]
They may have arrived hours ago. [= Perhaps they arrived hours ago.]

 

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Hi, Is there a difference between following sentences?
'I may see you tomorrow.'
'I might see you tomorrow.'
It says both may and might are used when we are not certain.
Also can you please tell me the sentence 'you have not improved any bit' is grammatically correct, or is it you have not improved a bit.

Hi Melody16,

In this context, both 'may' and 'might' are possible. There are differences in other contexts, but not when talking about certainty.

In your second sentence 'any' is not correct; 'a bit' is correct here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

how can I make the difference between request and permission?

Hello fried_ice,

The context is essential in knowing what a sentence or question means. If you give us a specific short example and tell us how you understand it, we'll try to help you.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

When used for something we are not sure of, does 'might' show less likelihood than 'may'?

Hello Benyinka,

In this use there is no difference in probablility between 'might' and 'may'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much for the precise answer!

Thank you for your answer. However, my question had to do with "future" probability not just probability. That is why the sentence contained the "will" ("In such a case, I will may need your help"). The "may" alone does not refer to the future specifically, does it?

Hello Mikeb,

'May' can refer to the present or the future, as can other modals ('should', 'must' etc.). We do not use two modals together, so 'will may' is incorrect. 'May' by itself is sufficient.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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