Tag Archives: may

#EngClass: Modal verb – May

In this particular session/post, we’ll talk about “may”. It is one of many modal verbs which modify main verbs. Modal verbs are often used to express an opinion or attitude about a possible fact or to control a possible action.

Modal verbs either show:

  • a decision on how certain something is (a speculation or prediction about a fact, talk about degrees of certainty, possibility, likelihood)
  • the desire to control an action (give or refuse permission, talk about obligation and necessity)

When to use “may”?

“May” is most commonly used to express possibility. Other than that, “may” is also used for the following purposes:

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  1. To express future possibility.
    • Example:
      • She is very smart. I think she may get the scholarship.
  2. To give permission.
    • Example:
      • You may go out now that your homework is done.(Present)
      • You may go out after your homework is done. (Future)
  3. To ask for permission.
    • Example:
      • May I stay overnight?
  4. To talk about typical occurrences.
    • Example:
      • You may find it difficult if you drink coffee in the evening.
  5. To speculate about past actions. 
    • Example:
      • She is late. I think she may have overslept.
  6. To express wishes.
    • Example:
      • May all your wishes come true.

How to use “may”?

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  • In an interrogative sentence, “may” is placed up front and followed by subject and verb.
  • To form a negative sentence, “not” is placed after the word “may”.
  • In a sentence, “may” is placed after subject and before verb.
  1. To express future possibility.
    • Example:
      •  (+) She is very smart. I think she may get the scholarship.
      • (-) I think she may not get the scholarship.
  2. To give permission.
    • Example:
      • (+) You may go out now that your homework is done.(Present)
      • (-) You may not go out. Your homework is not done.
    • Example:
      • (+) You may go out after your homework is done. (Future)
      • (-) You may not go out even after your homework is done.
  3. To ask for permission.
    • Example:
      • (?) May I stay overnight?
  4. To talk about typical occurrences.
    • Example:
      • (+) You may find it difficult to sleep if you drink coffee in the evening.
      • (-) You may not find it difficult to sleep if you drink milk.
  5. To speculate about past actions.
    • Example:
      • (+) She is late. I think she may have overslept.
      • (-) She arrived looking tired. I think she may not have overslept.

Speculating past action

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“May” can also be used to form a past tense sentence to express past possibility.

  • To express past possibility, “may” is followed by “have” and past participle (verb3).
    • Example:
      • She may have been waiting in the rain. She was feverish.
  • To form a negative sentence when talking about past possibility, “not” is placed right after “may”.
    • Example:
      • She may not have been waiting in the rain. Her clothes were dry.

Giving permission in the past

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To express giving permission in the past, we do not use “may”. Instead, we use “be allowed to“. Both are synonymous, except “be allowed to” can be used to give permission in the present, past and future.

  • When we talk about giving permission in the past, “be allowed to” is positioned after subject and followed by an infinitive verb. And since we’re talking a past event, we use “was” or “were”.
    • Example:
      • He was allowed to go on a holiday.
  • To form a negative sentence when talking about giving permission in the past, “not” is slipped in right after “was/were”.
    • Example:
      • He was not allowed to go on a holiday.
  • To form an interrogative sentence when talking about giving permission in the past, “was/were” is placed up front followed by the subject, “allowed to” and the infinitive verb.
    • Example:
      • Was he allowed to go on a holiday?

Feel free to ask if you have any question in relation to “may”. Simply drop a comment down below or contact us on Twitter.

Compiled and written by @miss_qiak for @EnglishTips4U on Wednesday, January 18, 2017


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#EngTrivia: The use of ‘may’ and ‘might’

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Have you ever wondered the correct way to use ‘may’ and ‘might?’ Let’s have a discussion about it.

May

May is a modal verb. It is used to:

  1. say that something is possible (to happen).
    • Example:
      • He may be late.
  2. ask for permission.
    • Example:
      • May I use the phone?
  3. speculate about past activity.
    • Example:
      • She is late. She may have missed the bus.

Might

Might is the past tense form of may. May and might are actually interchangeable in some forms of sentences. From the examples above we can switch the word ‘may’ into ‘might.’

  • He might be late.
  • Might I use the phone?
  • She was late. She might have missed the bus.

The use of ‘might’ shows the use of past tense. Don’t hesitate to use ‘may’ or ‘might’ in these situations because they basically have the same meaning.

 

Compiled and written by @iismail21 at @EnglishTips4u on Sunday, January 24, 2016

 

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#EngKnowledge: Short history of May Day

May 1st, is an annual holiday where we celebrate Labor Day or International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day. Do you know what May Day means and the history behind it? This time, let me share some knowledge and facts about this day.

Are you currently working, fellas? How many hours do you work in a day? 8 hours? Where did this rule come from?

Well, here’s the history…

  • May Day is originally a pagan holiday, which is an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival.
  • But in relation to Labor Day, it is held in commemoration of four workers executed for struggling for an 8-hour day.
  • On 1 May 1886, a strike demanding an 8 hour day in Chicago started. 400,000 workers from different backgrounds were involved.
  • The eight-hour movement began a century before that, 1806. In that era workers worked 19 to 20 hours a day. Imagine that!
  • Two days after 1 May 1886, a mass meeting was held. After a police attack and a bomb, 8 men were captured and stood trial.
  • Although there was no proof that the 8 men threw the bomb, and the defense was not allowed to present evidence, 7 were sentenced to death.
  • 1 was sentenced to 15 years in prison. After a massive international campaign for their release, 2 were sentenced to life imprisonment.
  • The day before the executions, 1 committed suicide. On 11 November 1887 Parsons, Engel, Spies and Fischer were hanged.
  • 600,000 workers came to their funeral. The campaign to free the other 3 workers continued. They were eventually set free.
  • Later evidence showed that the bomb may have been thrown by a police agent, as a way to discredit the labour movement.
  • 1904, the International Socialist Conference meeting in Amsterdam declared 1 May as the legal establishment of the 8-hour day.
  • In Indonesia Labor Day has been celebrated since 1920. But it was prohibited during Soeharto era. In 2014 it has become a public holiday.
  • Well, that’s the end of our tonight. Remember, it never hurts to learn some history. It even brings us many advantages! :)
  • Learning history makes you appreciate life & give thanks to those who lived before you & sacrificed so you can enjoy what you have today. :)

Sources: A short history of May DayInternational Workers’ Day and Hari Buruh on Wikipedia

Compiled and written by @NenoNeno at @EnglishTips4U on Thursday, May 1, 2014

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