Distinguishing Between May, Might, & Could

What Does May Mean?

May is a modal verb used in formal situations in the present tense. It is more commonly used in British English than American English and is used to express something that has a higher possibility of happening. May is used to indicate that something is true while another thing is also true, express formality, ask for permission, give permission, make requests, express possibility, and express uncertainty.

What Does Might Mean?

Might is the past form of may and is used to express something that is less likely to happen or in hypothetical situations. It is also used to express possibility and make requests. Might is considered a polite form when speaking and writing.

What Does Could Mean?

Could is often used to express ability and is considered a polite form of can. It is used to show that something is possible yet not certain, make general statements about the past, make guesses about the past, ask for permission, make requests, make offers, and make suggestions.

Key Takeaways

  • May is used for more likely situations, while might is used for less likely events, and could is used to express ability.
  • Might is the past tense form of may and is used in informal situations.
  • May and could are considered more formal and polite compared to might.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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