MAY or MIGHT?

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Hi. I'm Gill at www.engvid.com

and today the lesson is about the two words "may" and "might",

and I know these can be a little bit confusing because they are connected. "May" and "might"

come from the same verb, but it's a rather strange verb that is only used in certain

ways. So, I'm just going to give you a few examples to show how these words are actually

used in sentences and in different situations.

So, starting with "may", which as you know, is also the name of a month, it can be a woman's

name, but it's also a verb. And it's used in two main different ways. It's used to express

something that is possible, a possibility of something happening; and it can also be

used differently to ask permission in a polite way, to say: "May I do something?" It's more

polite than saying: "Can I" or "Could I". "Could I" is polite, "Can I" is less polite,

but "May I" is the really nice, polite way of asking for something.

Okay, so let's have a look first of all at "may" used to express something possible,

a possibility. So, first of all: I've lost my gloves. I can't find my gloves that go

on my hands. So I say to my friend:

"Oh, I can't find my gloves." And my friend replies:

"Do you think you may have dropped them in the street?"

Okay. So I was walking through

the street with my friend, we have arrived home.

"Do you think you may have dropped them in the street? Is that possible that you dropped them somewhere?"

So, that's possibility. Okay.

And again, going out again, so in this colder weather, my friend says:

"You'd better take a coat - it may get cold later."

If we're going out in the daytime, but we're going

to be out in the evening as well when it gets colder, so: "You'd better take a coat." Good

advice. "Take a coat. It may get cold later." It's possible it will get cold later and you'll

need to put your coat on. Okay?

And then finally for these examples of what is possible, I say to my friend:

"Was that John who just walked by? Someone walked by, was that John?" And my friend replies:

"It may have been. I'm not sure."

Because my friend didn't really see. It may have been, but I'm

not really sure. So, possibly. Possibly it was John. I'm not 100% sure. Okay, so those

are three examples of this first meaning of "may".

And then just two examples of asking permission using "may" in a polite way. If I don't have

a pen, I can say to someone:

"May I borrow your pen, please?"

Okay. "To borrow" is just to have for a short time, use it, give it back. Okay.

"May I borrow your pen, please?"

That's all very polite. "May I", "please". Okay?

And then finally, somebody asks you a question and it's maybe quite a complicated thing.

You can't decide. They invite you to something, you can't decide: Yes, no, not sure. You need

to think about it. So, you reply:

"I can't decide at the moment - may I have a few days to think about it?"

Okay? And hopefully the other person is willing to give you time to

think. It might be a very serious decision, so: "May I have a few days? Give me some time

to think about it." Okay, so that's the two main meanings for "may". We'll now move on

to look at "might".

Okay, so moving on to "might". It's similar in a way, similar to the first meaning of

"may", meaning possible. Okay? But the feeling with "might" is that it's a little bit less

likely to be true. It's more remote, less possible. There's more doubt about it. Okay?

Just slightly more doubt. So let's have a look at some examples. Okay, so I might say:

"I don't feel well." And my friend might say:

"Oh dear - do you think it might be something you've eaten?

Some food you've eaten. Do you think it might be, possibly?"

With some doubt.

Maybe she cooked the dinner so she doesn't want to think it was anything she cooked.

So: "Do you think it might be?" Okay?

Another example, someone asks:

"Where are you going for your holidays?"

And I might reply: "We haven't decided yet, but we might go to Italy."

It's possible, possible, but

not definite. "We might go to Italy."

Another example, you're waiting for your friend to arrive, Anna.

"Anna hasn't arrived yet - do you think she might have forgotten?"

the arrangement to meet. "Do you think she might have forgotten?"

It's not... It's not like her to forget, so there's a lot of doubt

there. "She might have forgotten, but mm." Okay?

And finally, one of the buses I sometimes travel on is a number 54. Okay? And but because I'm...

Can't see very well, if the bus is coming from a long way away I can't see the

number until it's nearer, so I might say to someone else waiting: "Is that a 54 bus coming?"

And they could reply:

"Mm..." They can't see the number either. "It might be - I can't see the number yet."

So, there were four different buses, it might be, it might be a 54, but

it could be one of three other possible ones. Okay.

And then just one final little note about the use of the word "may" with the word "be".

People tend to get this confused. Even English, native English speakers don't understand this.

So, "maybe", if you say "maybe" and if you write it as one word it means "perhaps". Again,

it's the idea of what's possible. Perhaps. Maybe.

-"Will we go to see a film tomorrow?"

-"Maybe. Maybe." Which means perhaps, it's possible. But if you have a sentence which says:

"It may be raining tomorrow", that is two words, "may", "be", two words.

"It may be raining tomorrow", so it doesn't mean perhaps. You can't say: "It perhaps raining tomorrow."

That doesn't work in English.

Okay, so I hope that lesson about "may" and "might" has been helpful. If you'd like to

go to the website, www.engvid.com, there is a quiz on this subject which I hope you would like

to try. And if you've found this lesson helpful, please subscribe to my channel on YouTube.

And so, that's all for now. Hope to see you again soon.

Bye.

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