- English Grammar Class
- Coursebook: English Grammar in Use
- Unit: 30
- Topic: Modal Auxiliary Verbs: “May” or “Might”
We use may and might to talk about possible actions or happenings in the future:
I haven’t decided yet where to go on holiday. I may go to Ireland. (=perhaps I will go there)
Take an umbrella with you. It might rain later. (= perhaps it will rain)
The bus isn’t always on time. We might have to wait a few minutes. (=perhaps we will have to wait)
The negative forms are may not and might not (mightn’t):
Amy may not go out tonight. She isn’t feeling well. (=perhaps she will not go out)
There might not be enough time to discuss everything at the meeting. (=perhaps there will not be enough time)
Compare will and may/might:
I’ll be late this evening. (for sure)
I may/might be late this evening. (possible)
Usually you can use may or might. So you can say:
I may go to Ireland . or I might go to Ireland.
Jane might be able to help you. or Jane may be able to help you.
But we use only might (not may) when the situation is not real:
If they paid me better, I might work harder. (not I may work)
The situation here is not real because they do not pay me well, so I’m not going to work harder.
There is a continuous form: may/might be -ing. Compare this with will be-ing:
Don’t phone at 8.30. I’ll be watching the football on television.
Don’t phone at 8.30. I might be watching (or I may be watching) the football on TV.
(=perhaps I’ll be watching it)
We also use may/might be -ing for possible plans. Compare:
I’m going to Ireland in July. (for sure)
I might be going (or I may be going) to Ireland soon. (possible)
But you can also say I might go / I may go … ‘ with little difference in meaning.
Might as well
Helen and Clare have just missed the bus. The buses run every hour.
What shall we do? Shall we walk?
We might as well. it’s a nice day and I don’t want to wait here for an hour.
We might as well do something= We should do it because there is no better alternative. There is no reason not to do it.
May as well is also possible.
A: What time are you going out?
Well, I’m ready, so I might as well go now.
Buses are so expensive these days, you might as well get a taxi. (=taxis are as good, no more expensive)