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    #1

    Red face "may" vs "might"

    Hi guys. I need help for this one.
    I read an article saying that the word "may" suggest possibility and the word "might" suggest uncertainty. Another article I read says that "might is the past tense of "may". It also says that they are interchangeable at times. Here are some examples,
    * Interchangeability *
    "She might be my advisor next semester."
    "She may be my advisor next semester."
    * Past tense form *
    This is what the other article says.

    Avoid confusing the sense of possibility in may with the implication of might, that a hypothetical situation has not in fact occurred. For instance, let's say there's been a helicopter crash at the airport. In his initial report, before all the facts are gathered, a newscaster could say that the pilot "may have been injured." After we discover that the pilot is in fact all right, the newscaster can now say that the pilot "might have been injured" because it is a hypothetical situation that has not occurred.

    Can anybody make it clearer?
    Thanks again in advance.

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "may" vs "might"

    The first thing to say is that there is no clear answer to your question. Some people always use 'might' as a distancing form of 'may'; some people use 'may' and 'might' interchangeably; others do not use 'may' at all.

    In formal standard British usage 'may (have)' is not possible in sentences such as:

    If the pilot had not been wearing a seat belt, he might have been injured.

    We know that he was not injured. Therefore, there is (obviously) no actual possibility that he was injured, and so we cannot use 'may'. However, I am increasinggly seeing 'may' used in such situations.

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    #3

    Re: "may" vs "might"

    Thanks for the answer and the link 5jj. It will be very useful.

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