With the right tools, we can build the house of English together.
May is used to ask for and give permission:
• "May I shut the window?"— "Yes, of course you may."— "No, you may not." (This sounds strict and unfriendly.)— "I'd rather you didn't. I'm so hot." (This sounds friendlier!)
• "Visitors may not park on the grass."
May is rather formal. Can and could can also be used to ask for permission in a less formal style.
May and might are also used to talk about possibility:
• "Let's ask that man. He might know where the station is."• "Let's ask that man. He may know where the station is."
• "Why isn't Rachel answering her phone?"— "She might be in the shower."— "She might not hear it ringing."— "She may be out."— "She may not have it switched on."
Let's have a look at what happens to may or might when you express possibility in different tenses:
Now try the exercise on the next page.
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