Among the modal verbs, may is the most polite one to use. It is used to express the following ideas.


  • The explosion may have been caused by a gas leak. (Probability)
  • Don’t go near! It may be poisonous. (Possibility)
  • May

     I have another lollipop? (Asking for permission); Yes, you may. (Giving permission)

  • May you live to the ripe old age of 100. (Wish/Hope) 

  • Carl, may I borrow that red cap of yours? (Polite request/Question)
  • It may be wise to stop seeing him forever. (Suggestion)




Unlike the modal verb maymight has a contraction in mightn’t. This negative form of might can be used in asking a question
  • Mightn’t that hairy animal be a new species of monkey unknown to science?


The modal verb might is used to express the following ideas. 


  • She said he might go to Hell for what he did to her. (Past tense of may)
  • might have stepped on the banana skin and fallen if I had not noticed it. (Possibility)
  • Might I ask why you two are not speaking to each other? (Permission)
  • You might like to have a look at my two new pets – a turtle and a guinea pig. (Suggestion)
  • You might at least try to look like you were enjoying the soup. (Annoyance)
  • If you were to tour in a desert, you might be caught in a sandstorm. (Condition)