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Atatürk
Posted: Friday, August 9, 2019 12:51:14 PM

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Joined: 10/25/2018
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Location: İstanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
What's the difference between the following two sentences?

Dolphins' protection of humans might not be just automatic or instinctive: they may actively decide to help in certain situations.


Dolphins' protection of humans may not be just automatic or instinctive: they might actively decide to help in certain situations.

Ite, maledicti, in ignem aeternum!
BobShilling
Posted: Friday, August 9, 2019 1:35:28 PM
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Location: Beroun, Stredocesky, Czech Republic
Some native speakers never use 'might'

Some use 'may' and 'might' fairly indiscriminately, with no real difference in meaning.

Some use 'may' to express a greater possibility than that for which they use 'might'.

That being so, it is not possible to say anything definitive about the differences between the two modals.
foolofgrace
Posted: Friday, August 9, 2019 3:29:18 PM

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There is another meaning for "may", and that is to indicate permission. For this reason, for example, IBM doesn't use "may" in its manuals -- it uses "might."

"The disc may become corrupt."
"The disc might become corrupt."

"May I have more ice cream?"
"No, you may not."
Adyl Mouhei
Posted: Saturday, August 10, 2019 3:55:55 AM

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The basic difference between MAY and MIGHT is that MAY is the present form and MIGHT is the past form of MAY. 1 - To express a wish or hope: May they be very happy in the future. 2- To politely give someone permission to do something: That's all for now, you may go. ... Now, MIGHT is the past tense of may.
BobShilling
Posted: Saturday, August 10, 2019 4:41:58 AM
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Joined: 4/1/2018
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Location: Beroun, Stredocesky, Czech Republic
Adyl Mouhei wrote:
The basic difference between MAY and MIGHT is that MAY is the present form and MIGHT is the past form of MAY.


That is true only in some circumstances, for example:

Bill (speaking a week ago): I may go to the cinema tomorrow.
Ben (speaking today): Bill said that he might go to the cinema the next day.

However, for many people, the use of might in Bill's utterance would not change the meaning at all. Might can be effectively a mere (near-synonym) of may, not a tense-differentiated form.

Indeed, even people who use might as the past-tense form of may in such circumstances cannot do this in others. Bill's second sentence below is not possible:

Bill: I may go to the cinema tomorrow.
Bill: I might go to the cinema yesterday.

This is why some writers regard could, might, should, and would, originally the past-tense forms of can, may, shall and will respectively, as separate modals
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