The Verbs "May" and "Might" - 149

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The Verbs May and Might. 


1. May and Might have no infinitive mood, participles, or gerund, and so they are called Defective. They carry the meaning of being allowed or being possible.

Thus He may go has two meanings : —

(a) He is allowed to go.

(b) It is possible that he will go.

2. The interrogative May he go? means “Is he allowed to go?

3. Sometimes, by way of politeness, might is used for may.

Might I borrow your pen for a moment?

4. It is important to note that although might is the past tense of may it is now generally used in a future sense.

We might meet your uncle there.

5. Might is also used in a persuasive sense, or in mild reproof.

You might just help me with this sentence.

You might have told me yesterday.

6. In practice the past tense of May is may have or might have, implying possibility.

They may have gone by the short cut.

You might have met my cousin there.

Homework.

Insert may or might in the following blank spaces (—).

1. — I ask your name? (polite form).

2. I — possibly go there on Sunday.

3. You — help me with this bit of parsing.

4. When — I call?

5. What — he have said to you?

6. We — have to pay more than you thought.

7. — I have a holiday today?

8. The postman — be here any moment now.

9. Be careful with that knife. You — cut yourself.

10.  If we — go to see that film we should be very

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