I heard this conversation from native speakers:

"Are you going to spend the weekend at your in-law's house?"
"I may not have to spend the weekend at my in-law's house."

Could we say "I will probably not have to spend the weekend at my in-law's house" instead? If so or not, what is the difference in meaning?

  • 2
    Do you understand the difference between the English verbs may and will? What research have you done? If we don't know the answer to that, it is difficult to determine what you understand, and this in turn makes it difficult to explain the usage. This is why we ask that you include your own research in your questions. Sep 10, 2016 at 6:24
  • 2
    @P.E.Dant - I think this is a perfectly legitimate question for a non native user who is leaning English.
    – user5267
    Sep 10, 2016 at 6:26
  • I understand the difference between "may" and "will", but my question is about the mixed of these modal verbs with "have to". since "may not have to do" does not make sense in my mother tongue language,I want to be sure that my understanding of the usage of this expression is correct. Sep 10, 2016 at 7:44
  • @xxxxxx It is without question a legitimate and interesting question. Without knowing what if any research the OP has done, though, it's impossible to address the question in a useful way. (That doesn't mean, of course, that there are no "rep points" available in return for an answer of any sort.) It's always better if a questioner tells us "Here is what I think, and why. Here is where I learned about the word fremilatch." That is why I (and many others) ask "What research have you done?" It benefits the quærents (and even the questioners.) Sep 10, 2016 at 8:07
  • 1
    @P.E.Dant - I agree that OP has to show the efforts that they have made to solve the issue on their own before asking here, but I think you need to consider also that for a non native it is not always easy to find clear answers expecially when nuances of meaming are involved.
    – user5267
    Sep 10, 2016 at 8:17

1 Answer 1


May in your sentence is used with the following connotation:

  • used for saying that there is a possibility that something is true or that something will happen:

    • *There may be an easier way of solving the problem. The injury may have caused brain damage. I may not be able to play on Saturday. You may be asked to show your passport. Some fir trees may grow up to 60 feet high.

"I may not have to spend the night" means, "There is a possibility I will not have to spend the night".

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – user230
    Sep 10, 2016 at 7:57
  • Your edit is laudable, +1 . It is an important distinction for the OP to understand. Sep 10, 2016 at 8:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .