May and might are confusing to a large number of speakers, and even more so because the difference is not sometimes obvious in today’s English. However, they are easy to understand if we know when and how to use them.
These are what we should know about how they are currently used:
i. May and might are used to show possibilities.
- Tunde may be the next manager of the company.
- We might be called tomorrow.
ii. May is used to make polite requests, might to make more polite requests. However, these are rather formal and not common in modern spoken English.
- May I be allowed to see the principal?
- Might we come for the money later?
iii. May is used to express wish or hope.
- May God bless you.
- May he find the happiness he deserves.
iv. May not is a negative form and it’s emphatic (used with force).
- “May we come in?” “You may not!”
v. In hypothetical situation, might is preferred.
- If I were short, I might marry a tall woman.
vi. May have and might have are used to show possible event if the situation is not known at the time of usage. They are also used to talk about the past.
- They may have written the proposal in the morning.
- They might have talked to him.
- He may have seen her after the show yesterday.
- It might have been a tough choice for him.
vii. However, if what is being referred to did not happen, might have is appropriate.
- He might have received the award, but he was caught selling contraband?
- The coach might have extended his contract, but he was already too old.