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May или might

В чем разница между may и might? Слово «may» обычно используется в настоящем времени, чтобы указать на что-то, что может произойти, или попросить разрешения. Слово «might» обычно используется в прошедшем времени для описания чего-то, что маловероятно произойдет, или ситуаций, которых не было.

A. Study this example situation:

You are looking for Bob. Nobody is sure where he is but you get some suggestions.

He may be in his office. (= perhaps he is in his office)
Where’s Bob? He might be having lunch. (= perhaps he is having lunch)
Ask Ann. She might know. (= perhaps she knows)


We use may or might to say that something is a possibility. Usually you can use may or might , so you can say:

  • It may be true.   or    It might be true. (= perhaps it is true)
  • She might know  or    She may know.

The negative forms are may not and might not (or mightn’t):

  • It might not be true. (= perhaps it isn’t true)
  • I’m not sure whether I can lend you any money. I may not have enough. (= perhaps I don’t have enough)

Study the structure:

be (true / in his office etc.)
I/you/he (etc.) (not)
be (doing / working / having etc.)
do / know / have / want etc.


B. For the past we use may have (done) or might have (done):

  • A: I wonder why Kay didn’t answer the phone.
  • B: She may have been asleep. (= perhaps she was asleep)
  • A: I can’t find my bag anywhere.
  • B: You might have left it in the shop. (= perhaps you left it in the shop)
  • A: I was surprised that Sarah wasn’t at the meeting.
  • B: She might not have known about it. (= perhaps she didn’t know)
  • A: I wonder why Colin was in such a bad mood yesterday.
  • B: He may not have been feeling well. (= perhaps he wasn’t feeling well)


Study the structure:

been (asleep / at home etc.)
I/you/he (etc.) (not) have
been  (doing / working / having etc.)
done / known / had / seen etc.


C. Sometimes could has a similar meaning to may and might:

  • The phone’s ringing. It could be Tim. (= it may/might be Tim)
  • You could have left your bag in the shop. (= you may/might have left it…)

But couldn’t (negative) is different from may not and might not. Compare:

  • She was too far away, so she couldn’t have seen you. (= it is not possible that she saw you)
  • A: I wonder why she didn’t say hello.
  • B: She might not have seen you. (= perhaps she didn’t see you; perhaps she did)


1  Write (these sentences in a different way using may or might.

  1. Perhaps Margaret is in her office.           _She might be in her office_
  2. Perhaps Margaret is busy.                          ______________________________________________
  3. Perhaps she is working.                             ______________________________________________
  4. Perhaps she wants to be alone.                  ______________________________________________
  5. Perhaps she was ill yesterday.                    ______________________________________________
  6. Perhaps she went home early.                   ______________________________________________
  7. Perhaps she had to go home early.            ______________________________________________
  8. Perhaps she was working yesterday.          _____________________________________________           In sentences 9-11 use may not or might not.
  9. Perhaps she doesn’t want to see me.          ______________________________________________
  10. Perhaps she isn’t working today.               ______________________________________________
  11. Perhaps she wasn’t feeling well yesterday. ______________________________________________

2 Complete the sentences with a verb in the correct form.

  1. ‘Where’s Bob?’ I’m not sure. He might _be having_ lunch.’
  2. ‘Who is that man with Ann?’   Tm not sure. It might___________________ her brother.’
  3. ‘Who was the man we saw with Ann yesterday?’  ‘I’m not sure. It might________________ her rother.’
  4. ‘Why are those people waiting in the street?’  ‘I don’t know. They might_________________ for a bus.’
  5. ‘Shall I buy this book for Tim?’   ‘You’d better not. He might already ___________________ it.’

3 Read the situations and make sentences from the words in bracket,. Use may or might.

1 I can’t find George anywhere. I wonder where he is.
a.    (he / go / shopping) __He may have gone shopping__
b.    (he / play / tennis) _He might be playing tennis.


2 I’m looking for Helen. Do you know where she is?
a.    (she / watch / TV / in her room) _______________________________________________________
b.     (she / go / out) _____________________________________________________________________

3 I can’t find my umbrella. Have you seen it?
a.    (it /be/in the car)____________________________________________________________________
b.    (you / leave / in the restaurant last night)_______________________________________________

4 Why didn’t Tom answer the doorbell? I’m sure he was in the house at the time.
a.    (he /be/in the bath) __________________________________________________________________
b.    (he / not / hear / the bell) _____________________________________________________________

4 Complete the sentences using might not or couldn’t.

  • A: Do you think she saw you?
  • B: No, she was too far away. _ She couldn’t have seen me_
  • A: I wonder why she didn’t say hello. Perhaps she didn’t see me.
  • B: That’s possible. _She might have not seen you__
  • A: I wonder why Ann didn’t come to the party. Perhaps she wasn’t invited.
  • B  Yes, it’s possible. She _____________________________________________________________
  • A: Tom loves parties. I’m sure he would have come to the party if he’d been invited.
  • B: I agree. He ______________________________________________________________________
  • A: I wonder how the fire started. Do you think it was an accident?
  • B: No, the police say it ________________________________________________________________
  • A: How did the fire start? I suppose it was an accident.
    B: Well, the police aren’t sure. They say it________________________________________________

May and might (2)

A. We use may and might to talk about possible actions or happenings in the future:

  • I haven’t decided yet where to spend my holidays. I may go to Ireland.   (= perhaps I will go to Ireland)
  • Take an umbrella with you when you go out. It might rain later. (= perhaps it will rain)
  • The bus doesn’t always come 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):

  • Ann may not come to the party tonight. She isn’t well. (= perhaps she will not come)
  • There might not be a meeting on Friday because the director is ill.   (= perhaps there will not be a meeting)

B. Usually it doesn’t matter whether you 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 I knew them better, I might invite them to dinner.(The situation here is not real because I don’t know them very well, so I’m not going to invite them. ‘May’ is not possible in this example.)

C. There is also 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 television.  (= 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 may be going (or I might be going) to Ireland in July. (possible)

But you can also say ‘I may go (or I might go) to Ireland_’ with little difference of meaning.

D. Might as well / may as well

Study this example:

Helen and Clare have just missed the bus. The buses run every hour

Helen: What shall we do? Shall we walk?

Clare: 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 something because there is nothing better to do and there is no reason not to do it.

You can also say ‘may as well‘.

  • A: What time are you going?
  • B: Well, I’m ready, so I might as well go now. (or ….I may as well go now)
  • The buses are so expensive these days, you might as well get a taxi.  (= taxis are just as good, no more expensive)


1 Write sentences with may or might.

  1. Where are you going for your holidays? (to Ireland ?)   I haven’t decided yet. I may go to Ireland
  2. What sort of car are you going to buy? (a Mercedes?) I’m not sure yet. I ________________________
  3. What are you doing this weekend? (go to London?) I haven’t decided yet______________________
  4. Where are you going to hang that picture? (in the dining room?)I haven’t made up my mind yet. __________________________________________________________
  5. When is Tom coming to see us? (on Saturday?) I don’t know yet. _________________________
  6. What is Julia going to do when she leaves school? (go to university???) She hasn’t decided yet____________

2 Complete the sentences using might + one of these verbs:

bite       break       need       rain     slip       wake

  1. Take an umbrella with you when you go out. It might rain later.
  2. Don’t make too much noise. You _________________________ the baby.
  3. Be careful of that dog. It_________________________ you.
  4. I don’t think we should throw that letter away. We _________________________ it later.
  5. Be careful. The footpath is very icy. You _________________________
  6. I don’t want the children to play in this room. They _________________________ something.

3 Complete the sentences using might be able to or might have to + a suitable verb.

  1. I can’t help you but why don’t you ask Jill? She might be able to help you.
  2. I can’t meet you this evening but I__________________________________ you tomorrow evening.
  3. I’m not working on Saturday but I______________________________________ on Sunday.
  4. George isn’t well. He ______________________________________ to hospital for an operation.


4 Write sentences with may not or might not.

  1. (I don’t know if Ann will come to the party.) __Ann might not come to the party.
  2. (I don’t know if I’ll go out this evening.) I ________________________________________________
  3. (I don’t know if Tom will like the present I bought for him.)Tom __________________________ ___________________
  4. (I don’t know if Sue will be able to meet us this evening.)____________________________________


5 Read the situations and make sentences with may/might as well.

  1. You and a friend have just missed the bus. The buses run every hour. You say: We’ll have to wait an hour for the next bus. __ We might as well walk_
  2. You have a free ticket for a concert. You’re not very keen on the concert but you decide to go. You say: I______________________________________ to the concert. It’s a pity to waste a free ticket.
  3. You’re in a cafe with a friend. You’ve finished your drinks. It’s a nice cafe and there is no reason to go now, so why not have another drink? You say: We _____________________________________ What would you like?
  4. You and a friend are at home. You are bored. There’s a film on TV starting in a few minutes. You say:____________________________________________________ There’s nothing else to do.
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