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I'm curious if "May you" + verb is grammatically correct - any comments?

Thank you.

marked as duplicate by Scott, Andrew Leach Jan 26 '17 at 8:56

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    Could you provide a little more context, such as the whole sentence (or an example sentence) in which you use the construction in question? As it stands, it's a bit difficult to understand what you're asking. – vpn Jan 26 '17 at 5:05


The word “may” frequently refers to permission:

You may stay out until nine, but you may not stay out past ten.

It can be used in this sense in questions.  A couple of contrived examples:

  • May you swim in the ocean when there’s no lifeguard on duty?
  • If you roll an eight (on the dice), may you choose to stop after moving only seven spaces?

These use “you” in the sense of “one”, and, in real life, most people would use “can” instead of “may”; e.g., “Can you swim…?”, “Can one swim…?”, or possibly “May one swim…?”

Sometimes “you” means just “you”:

Now that you’ve moved into a larger apartment, may you get a dog?

but, again, this seems awkward.  In real life, most people would ask, “are you allowed to get a dog?”


The word pair “may you” appears in non-questions, that are somewhat similar to future declarative sentences, but with a whiff of the prophetic to them.  The classic example is:

May you live in interesting times.

and it’s debatable whether that’s a wish or a curse.  But there are plenty of blessings (wishes for good luck) that use those words.  Here’s a nice one I found at Irish Quotations, Irish Blessings, Irish Proverbs and Irish Toasts:

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.


Delving deep into the Google results, I found this page about Charlotte Blake Alston.  Referring to the audience of a reading of a folk tale, it says,

Tales that make you say, “Hmmm.”
Not only may you find yourself asking, “What will Turtle do next?” you may also find yourself asking, “What would I do in that situation?”  Hmmm.

Here “may you” means “might you”, which essentially means “you might”.

All of these are grammatically correct (although the ones in the first group are awkward and rarely used).


Usually, polite form of a question is could you, but still may seems grammatically correct.

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