7. MAY

1. Used to say that sth is possible: That may or may not be true. He may have (= perhaps he has) missed his train. They may well win. There is a range of programs on the market, which may be described as design aids.

2. Used when admitting that sth is true before introducing another point, argument, etc.: He may be a good father but he’s a terrible husband.

3. (Formal) used to ask for or give permission: May I come in? You may come in if you wish.

4. (Formal) used as a polite way of making a comment, asking a question, etc.: You look lovely, if I may say so. May I ask why you took that decision? If I may just add one thing …

5. (Formal) used to express wishes and hopes: May she rest in peace. Business has been thriving in the past year. Long may it continue to do so?

6. (Formal) used to say what the purpose of sth is: There is a need for more resources so that all children may have a decent education.

 

MAYBE

1. Used when you are not certain that sth will happen or that sth is true or is a correct number SYN perhaps: Maybe he’ll come, maybe he won’t. ‘Are you going to sell your house?’ ‘Maybe.’ It will cost two, maybe three hundred pounds. We go there maybe once or twice a month.

2. Used when making a suggestion. SYN perhaps: I thought maybe we could go together. Maybe you should tell her.

3. Used to agree with sb, to add more Information that should be thought about. SYN perhaps: ‘You should stop work when you have the baby.’ ‘Maybe, but I can’t afford to.

4. Used when replying to a question or an idea, when you are not sure whether to agree or disagree. SYN perhaps: ‘I think he should resign.’ ‘Maybe.’

 

8. MIGHT

1. Used as the past tense of May when reporting what sb has said: He said he might come tomorrow.

2. Used when showing that sth is or was possible: He might get there in time, but I can’t be sure. I know Vicky doesn’t like the job, but I mightn’t find it too bad. The pills might have helped him, if only he’d taken them regularly. He might say that now (= it is true that he does), but he can soon change his mind.

3. Used to make a polite suggestion: You might try calling the help desk. I thought we might go to the zoo on Saturday.

4. (BrE) used to ask permission politely: Might I use your phone? If I might just say something …

5. (Formal) used to ask for Information: How might the plans be improved upon? And who might she be?

6. Used to show that you are annoyed about sth that sb could do or could have done: I think you might at least offer to help! Honestly, you might have told me!

7. Used to say that you are not surprised by sth: I might have guessed it was you!

8. Used to emphasize that an important point has been made: ‘And where is the money coming from?’ ‘You might well ask!’