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.
- Perhaps Margaret is in her office. _She might be in her office_
- Perhaps Margaret is busy. ______________________________________________
- Perhaps she is working. ______________________________________________
- Perhaps she wants to be alone. ______________________________________________
- Perhaps she was ill yesterday. ______________________________________________
- Perhaps she went home early. ______________________________________________
- Perhaps she had to go home early. ______________________________________________
- Perhaps she was working yesterday. _____________________________________________ In sentences 9-11 use may not or might not.
- Perhaps she doesn’t want to see me. ______________________________________________
- Perhaps she isn’t working today. ______________________________________________
- Perhaps she wasn’t feeling well yesterday. ______________________________________________
2 Complete the sentences with a verb in the correct form.
- ‘Where’s Bob?’ I’m not sure. He might _be having_ lunch.’
- ‘Who is that man with Ann?’ Tm not sure. It might___________________ her brother.’
- ‘Who was the man we saw with Ann yesterday?’ ‘I’m not sure. It might________________ her rother.’
- ‘Why are those people waiting in the street?’ ‘I don’t know. They might_________________ for a bus.’
- ‘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.
- Where are you going for your holidays? (to Ireland ?) I haven’t decided yet. I may go to Ireland
- What sort of car are you going to buy? (a Mercedes?) I’m not sure yet. I ________________________
- What are you doing this weekend? (go to London?) I haven’t decided yet______________________
- Where are you going to hang that picture? (in the dining room?)I haven’t made up my mind yet. __________________________________________________________
- When is Tom coming to see us? (on Saturday?) I don’t know yet. _________________________
- 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
- Take an umbrella with you when you go out. It might rain later.
- Don’t make too much noise. You _________________________ the baby.
- Be careful of that dog. It_________________________ you.
- I don’t think we should throw that letter away. We _________________________ it later.
- Be careful. The footpath is very icy. You _________________________
- 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.
- I can’t help you but why don’t you ask Jill? She might be able to help you.
- I can’t meet you this evening but I__________________________________ you tomorrow evening.
- I’m not working on Saturday but I______________________________________ on Sunday.
- George isn’t well. He ______________________________________ to hospital for an operation.
4 Write sentences with may not or might not.
- (I don’t know if Ann will come to the party.) __Ann might not come to the party.
- (I don’t know if I’ll go out this evening.) I ________________________________________________
- (I don’t know if Tom will like the present I bought for him.)Tom __________________________ ___________________
- (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.
- 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_
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.