may1 [ mei ] modal verb ***
May is usually followed by an infinitive without to :
It may rain.
Sometimes may is used without a following infinitive:
I'd like to make one or two comments, if I may.
May does not change its form, so the third person singular form does not end in -s :
He may arrive this afternoon.
Questions and negatives are formed without do :
May I make a suggestion?
She may not understand.
The negative form may not is sometimes shortened to mayn't by British speakers of English, but it is not common.
May has no participles and no infinitive form.
There is no past tense, but may have followed by a past participle can be used for talking about past possibilities:
She may have changed her mind and decided not to come. When indirect speech is introduced by a verb in the past tense, might is used as the past tense of may:
I asked if I might see the paintings.
There is no future tense, but may is used for talking about future possibilities:
I may go to Toledo next week.
1. ) used for showing possibility
a ) 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.
b ) FORMAL used for saying that it is possible to do something in a particular way:
The bill may be paid by check or by credit card.
The total may be calculated by two different methods.
c ) may (very) well/easily used for saying that something is fairly likely to be true or is fairly likely to happen:
What you say may very well be true.
A small technical error may easily result in a serious accident.
it may well be that: It may well be that the information is not available.
2. ) be allowed to do something
a ) SPOKEN used for politely asking someone to let you do something:
May we come in now?
May I use your phone?
b ) FORMAL used for saying that something is allowed:
Visitors may use the swimming pool between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.
You may take a short break now.
3. ) used in polite requests or offers SPOKEN used when making a polite request or offer:
May we offer you a glass of wine?
May I see your ticket, please?
May I have a cookie?
May I help?
=> CAN
4. ) used in polite remarks or suggestions SPOKEN used when making a polite remark or suggestion:
may I say/ask/suggest etc.: May I say a word of thanks to all those who helped today.
May I suggest a better idea?
if I may: Let me, if I may, introduce you my manager, Jim Doyle.
a ) if I may say so used for introducing a personal comment, when you know that the person you are speaking to may find this offensive:
What a very attractive dress, if I may say so!
5. ) used for showing a purpose FORMAL used for saying that someone does something in order to achieve a particular purpose:
The dried fruit may be used through the winter.
6. ) used for expressing a wish FORMAL used for expressing a hope or a wish:
May peace and prosperity return to this troubled land!
may as well INFORMAL => NOTE
used for suggesting something when you cannot think of anything better to do:
We may as well go home. There's nothing more to do.
used when you agree that something is true, but you argue that this does not change the main fact that you are stating:
The school may not be as good as it was, but it is still popular.
=> BE
may 2 [ meı ] noun uncount MAINLY BRITISH
the HAWTHORN tree or its flowers

Usage of the words and phrases in modern English. 2013.

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