1 Do we use may in questions about possibility? For example

He may be right.

Can I ask

May he be right

Or it doesn't sound natural and it's better to use other modals?

2 "Might you do that?" only works if we wonder if "you" is likely to do something it's not a request. The same applies to may. Am I right?

3 we use might for permission in very formal situatiins. Can we also give and negative permission by saying " you might open the window or you might not open the window"?

1 Answer 1


It's better not to ask several questions at once.

  1. He may be right isn't a question, and the ones that are need question marks. Can I ask? is a request for permission. May he be right? doesn't sound natural; better to ask Could he be right?

  2. Yes, you are right (although May you do that? could also mean are you allowed to do that?)

  3. No, we use may for giving permission. You may/may not open the window.

  • 1 "Might he be right" is fine too? Can you explain why "may" doesn't sound right 2 "although May you do that? could also mean are you allowed to do that?)" Does "might you do that" also mean "are you allowed to do that"? Commented Apr 19 at 17:17
  • 1
    "May he be right?" is a garden path sentence; a native speaker will start interpreting the sentence at "May he..." and assume that a question about permission is coming (such as "May he come to the dance?"), and will have to completely change their interpretation once the word "right" hits their ears. Because of this ambiguity, the construction is strongly disfavored.
    – YonKuma
    Commented Apr 19 at 17:38
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    @YonKuma: I think you might be right! But as that linked usage chart shows, a couple of centuries ago I'd have been much more likely to say "I think you may be right". Commented Apr 19 at 17:42
  • What about might he be right and my 2 question. And thank you Commented Apr 19 at 18:07
  • Daba, you should ask Is "Might he be right?" fine too? Yes, it's a valid sentence, though I think "could" is more likely. When I say "it doesn't sound natural" I mean that a native speaker is unlikely to say it. And, no, "Might you do that?" cannot mean "Are you allowed to?". I have already told you that may is the one used for giving permission. Commented Apr 20 at 8:21

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