Contrary to ‘ Can ‘, May shows a slighter ,weaker or less possibility . May is used when there are less chances of the predictions to happen. Thus we use  May when chances of the incidents to be taken  place are less. Besides May shows the predictions ,wishes and request also. Thus following are the uses of May:-

 a. Slight/Less expected /possibility:

                    It may rain today.

                    The train may not be late.

 b. Formal Request:

                     May I use your pen?

                     May I come in?

 c. Probability of any action:

                     I can see dark clouds in the sky.

                     It may rain heavily today.

 d. Blessings/ Curse:

                    May you live long !

                    May you go to hell ! 

                    May you touch the

                    zenith of success !

                   May you meet to devils !


Might- Past of May- shows the slightest ,weakest or least possibility of any incident to be taken place in comparison of Can and May.

 a. Past Possibility-

           It’s good, you had arrived by the                          time. It might rain today.

( Suppose it is evening time and there was the slightest possibility of the arrival of rain. But now the time is over. So in such case, we‘ll use might.)

 b. Polite Request:

            Might I use your colours?

( Same as explained earlier in the usage of could, Might is also sometimes  used for making a request during awkward or embarrassing conditions/circumstances)

  c. Slightest/Least Possibility:

        He was reluctant to attend the party.

       Still, we must wait for some time.

       He might be on the way.

 d. So that _ Might-
With so that, we always use might.
         I work hard so that I might 

         succeed in my life.
         She is improving her handwriting 

         that she might secure good percentage in the examinations.

5. Whether/if

with ‘whether’ or ‘if’ we always use Might

I doubt whether he migth return.

I wonder if she might survive.


Difference between May and Might

The basic difference between May and Might depends on the possibility of the prediction or upcoming action. If the possibility is strong, the use of May is preferable. If the possibility is weak, the use of Might is suggested for conveying the idea in a better way.

Stronger Possibility :
I can see huge dark clouds in the sky.
It may rain today.

She was looking happy when I invited her to the party.

She may join us soon.
Weaker Possibility: 
I can see some clouds in the sky.
It might rain today.

She showed no interest when I invited her to the party.

Still we must wait. She might join us.

Difference among Can MAy and Could

Read the following sentences carefully:-

  • Anita has been working hard since the last seven months to win race in the Annual Sports Day of the school. So she can win the race.
  •  Anita has been working hard since the last seven months to win the race on the Annual Sports Day of the school. But her foot had been injured a little yesterday. She may win this race if she gets proper treatment at the time.
  • Anita has been working hard since the last seven months to win the race on the Annual Sports Day of the school. But she had met with an accident before two days while crossing the road. She might win the race if she gets proper treatment and does not lose her will power.

Thus in condition 1- there is a 99% expectation of winning the race as Anita has worked hard, the whole of the seven months.
So the use of Can is correct here.


Condition 2- Though Anita has worked hard, she has injured herself. Now, if she gets treatment at the correct time and gets fit and fine, there are some chances of her winning the race.

Condition 3- Anita is badly injured. Now it is only a better treatment and her willpower that may help her to win the race. So chances are least. That is why the use of Might will be correct here. So these are  some thin line differences among the use of can , may and might.


____ you always be happy !

Correct! Wrong!

_______ I use your phone please? It’s urgent ,I have forgotten mine at home.

Correct! Wrong!

Arpita reported that she ______ not join the party .

Correct! Wrong!

It ____ be very expensive, but it’s much better than the others.

Correct! Wrong!

Ankit tells Richa that she ____ be late today.

Correct! Wrong!

I was just wondering whether you ____ be able to help me.

Correct! Wrong!

Might shows:-

Correct! Wrong!

He has broken his leg. He _____ win the race.

Correct! Wrong!

He is suffering from high fever. He _____ take the exam today. Still we must wait for him sometime before catching the bus.

Correct! Wrong!

The farmer is working hard on his field so that he _______ have a good crop this year.

Correct! Wrong!

Your Score

Share your Results:



a. As the Past of Will

Will is used as a PAST TENSE of will often

 In a direct speech

indirect speech

He asked Nisha if she would like to join the party with him.

b. For making offers

what would you like to have, tea or coffee?

which can we do prefer, blue or red?

c. For making the formal or informal request –
Would you tell me the way to the hotel?
Would you pass me that spoon, please?

d.  For showing your preference

I would rather die than beg.

I would prefer to die to beg.

e. For showing Determination
I would support you come what may.
f. To Express Probability
Ankur would be back by 5 pm.
g. Condition impossible
If I were a magician, I would turn you into a rat.

h. For showing temporary past habits
I would visit the Taj daily when I lived in Agra.

Note – For showing permanent past habits, we use ‘Used to ‘

but for showing temperory Past hapbits ,we use would

I used to do teach in SNVP when I lived in Meerut. 

(Permanent habit )

I would visit Cinemax every Sunday when I lived in Meerut.

( Temporary habit )

i. For showing attitude –
I would not listen to anyone now.
She would soon show her attitude.

Exercise :WOULD

Understand how ‘ would ‘ can be used in different ways by filling in this exercise:-
a. What _____you like to have in breakfast?
b. Where _____you like to visit in this Summer?
c. I _____visit the river bank in the evening daily when I was a child .
d. _____ you please inform the Principal Sir that I wish to meet him. 
e. If she were a butterfly, I _______ catch her.
f. She has been very selfish now. She ______not join our party now.
g. She asked Vani if she ________join the school the next day. 

Published by Buds of Wisdom

I am Meena Kumari, PGT(English)+ B.ed. Teaching is my passion. Love to guide students in Grammar Learning and build up their writing skills.

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