MAY and MIGHT – Degree of Certainty


“Degree of certainty” refers to how sure we are; what we think the chances are; that something is probably true. If we are sure something is true in the present, we don’t need to use a modal.

MAY and MIGHT are used to express a week degree of certainty.

Compare these examples:

• He is sick.

[I’m sure; I’m stating a fact that I’m sure he is sick.]

• He may be sick.

[Perhaps, maybe, possibly he is sick.]


MAY and MIGHT – Shows possibility


MAY and MIGHT both express the idea of possibility. MAY shows strong possibility, whereas MIGHT shows less possibility. Be aware that MAY can also be used for permission.

MAY and MIGHT have similar meaning to COULD to mean to suggest a possible outcome; they are interchangeable.

• She may change her mind.

• She might change her mind.

• She could change her mind.

However, COULD implies a slightly higher degree of likeness than MIGHT.


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