Difference between 'May' and 'Might' | Might vs May

What is the Difference between ‘May’ and ‘Might’

English grammar comprises of sets of rules that define how sentences are put together in the English language. It consists of word orders, syntactic structures and other things like agreement between verbs and subjects. In this article, we will explore the points of difference between the verbs ‘may’ and ‘might’.

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‘May’ and ‘might’ are often used interchangeably as both words are used to express possibilities. However, English is a very complex language, and the meaning of some words can change with usage. For example, the words ‘may’ or ‘might’ can also be used for asking permissions or making requests or providing suggestions.

‘May’ is also used as a noun as it is the name of the fifth month of the year. The following table will highlight the differences between ‘may’ and ‘might’ as well as their usage with the help of examples.

Table Summarising the Difference between ‘May’ and ‘Might’

May Might
Usage Usually used as a modal verb. It can also be used as a noun. ‘Might’ can be used as a modal verb as well as a noun.
Meaning Verb: used for expressing

  1. Possibilities.
  2. Asking or giving permissions.
  3. Expressing hopes or wishes.


  1. Hawthorns (a species of flower).
  2. The fifth month of the year (May).
Verb: used as

  1. Past form of the verb ‘may’.
  2. Expression of a polite request or asking for a permission.
  3. Indicator of a suggestion or expression of possibilities.


  1. A display of strength or power.

The Meanings of ‘May’ and ‘Might’

As discussed above, the meaning of ‘may’ and ‘might’ can change depending on the context of tenses to be used in sentences . Moreover, these two words can be expressed as nouns as well as verbs.

  • ‘May’ meaning:

As a verb, ‘may’ can imply:

  1. Possibility: the prediction of an event where someone talks about something that is going to happen.
  2. Ask permission: used mostly when a person of junior post wants to do something with the consent of his superiors or immediate superior.
  3. Expressing hope or a wish: the verb is used in sentences where we want to talk about something wistful or something that we would eagerly like to happen in the near future.

As a noun, it can refer to:

  1. Hawthorns, which are a a particular species of flower.
  2. The fifth month of the year, which is also often considered to be the last month of the spring season.
  • ‘Might’ meaning:

As a verb, ‘might’ refers to:

  1. Past of ‘may’: it is the past form of the verb ‘may’ and can be used in various contexts that talk in future or the past tense.
  2. Used to express a polite request or ask a permission.
  3. Used to make a suggestion or express a possibility.

As a noun, it means:

  1. A display of strength or power

Examples for ‘Might’ and ‘May’

We can better understand the meanings of these words with examples.

  • ‘May’ examples:


  1. Possibility – They may be obsolete, but they are reliable.
  2. Ask/give permission – You may take the rest of the day off.
  3. Expressing hope or a wish – May the future be bright.


  1. The fifth month of the year – She will return to India in May.
  • ‘Might’ examples:


  1. Past of ‘may’ – She might be home.
  2. Used to express a polite request or ask a permission – Might I ask your good name?
  3. Used to make a suggestion or express a possibility – This might seem too good to be true.


  1. A display of strength or power – He pushed the smouldering wreckage aside with all his might.

‘May’ vs ‘Might’ – Conclusion

English grammar is important for students because it helps them to understand the nuances of the language in a better way, and also to polish their writing skills. Good grammar can also help in improving a student’s grades in school. It can also help them find success in all facets of life or career. In this article, we have explored the differences between ‘may’ and ‘might’ and their usage with examples.

Explore other important English ‘Differences Between’ articles, only at BYJU’S English.


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