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2.2. The possibility ( subjectiveness)
"Can" also has the same meaning, but it implicates objective. That of "may" has subjective.

Moreover, this is not used for the interrogative sentence to ask the speaker's thought itself. This is also explained in 4.2. of chapter 2.

a. The Italian soccer team has advanced to the finals. They may win against France.
b. He may be late.
(I think he will get home late maybe.)

(6a) is compared as follows.

a. They may win against France.
b. They can win against France.

(7a) means the speaker's supposition. (7b) is also the supposition but it is in the history of the soccer. (*9)

*9 "May" is the supposition on the spot but "can" is in view of the theory. Therefore, the speaker's confidence of "can" is stronger that of "may." But the possibility of occurring the event of "may" is stronger than that of "can."

Now, in the interrogative sentence, the different meanings are seen. The negative of "may" denies the main verb, but that of "can" denies the modal auxiliary. See the following examples.

a. He may not be late.
b. It is possible that he will not be late.

a. He can't be late.
b. It is not possible that he will be late.

Each (a) is changed into (b) and the scope which is denied with "not" can be seen. This is explained in detail in 4.1 of the chapter 2.

Now, the next examples are compared between "may" and "might."

a. She may be in the room.
b. She might be in the room.

Both of them mean "perhaps she will be there I think." "Might" is the past tense, but it does not mean the past. The two means the present but the confidence of "might" is lower than that of "may." (*10)

*10 As this meaning, each of them can be used. But it tends to use "might" in spoken.

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