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Uses of May, Might,Can, Could Basic Ielts English Grammar Preparation


Uses of May, Might,Can, Could Basic Ielts English Grammar Preparation


May, Might,Can, Could are used for ability ,possibilty,permission,wish etc.

Examples of May, Might,Can, Could

I could swim across the river when I was young. (Ability)
He said 1 might/could go. (Permission)
I thought he might be at home. (Possibility)
She wondered whether it could be true. (Possibility)
We could have accepted the present. (= Why didn’t you accept the offer?)
Alexa may/might have gone with Lucy. (Possibility)
You might have run into the lamppost. (Possibility)(= It is lucky that you didn’t run into the lamppost.)

1- May is used to express possibility in affirmative sentences. Can is used in the
corresponding interrogative and negative sentences.
It may rain tomorrow.
He may be at home.
Can this be true?
It cannot be true.

Read the following sentences
(i)It cannot be true.
(ii)It may not be true’.

Cannot denotes impossibility, while may not denotes improbability.

2-Can usually expresses ability or capacity; as,
I can swim across the river.
He can work this sum.
Can you lift this box?

3-Can and may are used to express permission. May is rather formal.
You can/may go now.
Can/May I borrow your umbrella?

4-In present-time contexts could and might are used as less positive versions
of can and may; as,

(i)I can attend the class.
(ii)I could attend the class.(Less positive)

5- Difference between Might/Could and May/Can

Might/Could we visit your house ? less postive
May/Can we visit your house ? More postive

Might is also used to express a degree of dissatisfaction or reproach; as, we might pay a little more attention to his appearance.

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6- May is used to express a wish,in very formal English; as,

(i)May success attend you !
(ii)May you live happily and long !

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