This is part 7 in my modal verb series. You can find all the posts so far by clicking here. Today is all about "may". Note that "may" can often be replaced with another modal verb. Read on to learn more.
We use "may" to talk about:
I may be a few minutes late.
We may never know what happened.
("Might" could be used instead of "may" here.)
2. To say how something can be done
Bills may be paid by credit card.
The problem may be solved in two different ways.
("Can" is also possible instead of "may".)
May I make a suggestion?
You may borrow any of these books.
May I go to the toilet?
("Can" is also used for permission, especially in informal situations. "May" even sounds old-fashioned in some cases.)
4. Polite requests
May I have a biscuit?
(Again, "can" is also possible here but maybe sounds less polite.)
5. Polite offers
How may I help you?
May I offer you something to drink?
("Can" is possible but sounds less formal.)
6. To express wishes
May you have a long and happy marriage!
To get a free modal verb reference sheet, click the button below:
About the blog
Follow the blog for mini lessons and tips on how to improve your English.