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Meaning of “may” in the English Dictionary

"may" in British English

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maymodal verb

uk   /meɪ/ us   /meɪ/
  • may modal verb (POSSIBILITY)

A2 used to express possibility: There may be other problems that we don't know about. I may see you tomorrow before I leave. The cause of the accident may never be discovered. The explosion may have been caused by a faulty electrical connection. We'd better not interfere - she may not like it. There may be some evidence to suggest she's guilty, but it's hardly conclusive.

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  • may modal verb (PERMISSION)

B1 formal used to ask or give permission: A reader may borrow up to six books at any one time. "May I help myself to some more food?" "Yes, of course." Hi, my name's Tiffany. How may I help you?

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maynoun [U]

uk   /meɪ/ us   /meɪ/ also may blossom

Maynoun [C or U]

uk   /meɪ/ us   /meɪ/
A1 the fifth month of the year, after April and before June: My mother's birthday is in May. They got married on 12 May. We're supposed to be moving into new offices next May.

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  • We went to Crete last May.
  • His birthday is in May.
(Definition of may from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"may" in American English

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maymodal verb

us   /meɪ/ present tense may, past tense might /mɑɪt/
  • may modal verb (POSSIBILITY)

used to express possibility: She said she may decide to accept the job offer and may not.
  • may modal verb (PERMISSION)

used to ask or give permission: May I use your telephone?
  • may modal verb (SUGGESTION)

used to make a suggestion or suggest a possibility in a polite way: You may want to have a bite to eat before you leave.

Maynoun [C/U]

us   /meɪ/
the fifth month of the year, after April and before June
(Definition of may from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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