“What’s the difference between ‘may’ and ‘might’? I always get them confused.” – Jose
This is a great question that demonstrates a huge difference in conversational English and academic English. The simple answer is this: most people are never going to use “may”.
“May” is just too polite. Everyone would rather say “Can I borrow $10?” instead of “May I borrow $10?”– even though the later is technically more correct.
Now the question becomes, “How do I use the word ‘might’?” And here’s where it gets confusing because the idea of “might” is the same as “maybe”. Let’s look at it like this:
- I may be telling the truth.
- I might be telling the truth.
Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not. Who knows? I might be! These verb forms mean the same thing. Just be careful not to confuse “maybe” with “may be”. One if a single word. The other is two words.
When can we use the single word “maybe”? In response to a question you’re not sure about.
- Q: Do you think he’ll come?
- A: Maybe.
If you’re interested in learning more conversational English like this, connect with Jon to sign up for online private English coaching or face-to-face sessions in Boston. We’ll work on making you sound like a native speaker.