Ya Might’ve Said You May!

Did you know that there is a difference between might and may? It’s straightforward enough: might is the past tense of may.

I may go home soon. (present)

I might have gone home sooner if the beer hadn’t been so good. (past)

Easy enough, right? But sometimes I’ve been unsure about which word to use. Do I always have to use may for the present tense? It seems mighty formal, after all. Who says, I may do such-and-such? Often we say, I might do it.

Here’s a fab blog post that clears things up. The post claims that may and might can often be used interchangeably for the present or past, and certainly that does seem to be the case with today’s relaxed English. However, there are some instances when might is best:

1. when something didn’t happen, or it’s hypothetical

He received a second place ribbon, but he might have won if the judge were more professional.

2. when showing annoyance

You might have told me!

3. when making a polite, formal request

Might I show her Majesty to the water closet?

May is best for expressing a wish: May you live long and prosper!


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