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may and might

may and might :possibility

May and might often have a similar meaning when we talk about possibility. However, we prefer may in academic or formal language to talk about the characteristics or behaviour of something:

The seeds from the plant may grow up to 20 centimetres in length, and in speech we prefer might to say what we will possibly do in the future

I might paint the kitchen purple.

We don't use may to ask questions about the possibility of something happening. Instead we use, for example, could(not) or the phrase be likely

Could it be that you don't want to leave? (not May it be that you ...?)

Are you likely to be in Spain again this summer? (not May you be in Spain...?) It is possible to use might in this type of question, but it is rather formal:

Might (not 'may'?+ bare infinitive is sometimes used to talk about what was typically the case in the past. This is a formal or literary use:

During the war, the police might arrest you for criticising the king

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