Children's, Intermediate and Advanced Online English Dictionary & Thesaurus

Dictionary Suite


grammatical pattern:
modal + bare inf.
part of speech: auxiliary verb
inflections: may, might
definition 1: to be allowed to. (Cf. can1.)
You may take a break now, but please be back in fifteen minutes.[modal + bare inf. ] May I sit here?[modal + bare inf. ] Students may not keep pets in the dormitories.[modal + bare inf. ]
definition 2: used to express the possibility of something happening or being true.
He may arrive tonight if he can catch the last train.[modal + bare inf. ] Her injuries are serious, but she may still recover.[modal + bare inf. ] I didn't get a scholarship, so I may not be able to go to that private school after all.[modal + bare inf. ] A witness may have seen a man running away from the scene of the crime.[modal + bare inf. ] My parents may have been stricter with my older siblings than with me.[modal + bare inf. ]
definition 3: used to express a heartfelt wish, desire, or proclamation.
May your dreams come true![modal + bare inf. ] May they live a long and happy life together![modal + bare inf. ]
definition 4: to be able to (used in clauses and preceded by "so that" or "that").
I will tell them the truth so that they may understand my decision.[modal + bare inf. ]
definition 5: used to admit that something is true.
He may be a little slow, but his work is always of very high quality.[modal + bare inf. ] New York City may be crowded and expensive, but I find it an exciting place to live in.[modal + bare inf. ]