May or Might–Which Is Right?

Unsure whether to use may or might in a sentence?

You’re not alone. Many people grapple with the slight difference between the two and when to use them appropriately.

Do I say: “I may go to the library to work on our project“?

Or: “I might go to the library to work on our project“?

Let’s take a closer look …

The key distinction lies in the degree of possibility.

May suggests a strong likelihood* of something occurring. 

On the other hand, might suggests a slightly smaller chance of something happening.

Saying “I may go to the library” suggests you’re quite likely to go—there’s a good chance.

But if you say, “I might go to the library,” it implies the chance of going is a bit lower.

In the past tense, might becomes the correct choice.

For instance, instead of saying, “She may have left a message,” we use “She might have left a message.

In short: it’s a good practice to use may for higher probability and might for a slightly lesser one.

And when you’re talking about past events, might should be your go-to choice.

* deutet auf eine hohe Wahrscheinlichkeit hin

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Foto Christine Sparks

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