May, Might: modal verbs

  • Auteur/autrice de la publication :
  • Post category:grammar

May, might: Modal verbs:

May and might are modal verbs. ( or « modals »).
Modals are used before ordinary verbs.
May / Might are used to express meanings such as permission and possibility.

MAY: We use it to ask for permission to do something.
This expression is not very used in spoken English.
It’s very formal, you can say: « Can I?  » and (rather polite) « Could I? »
May I speak to your manager, please?
May I borrow your car?
Is it finished? May I go now?
May you do this, please?

MAY: We use it to suggest something is possible:
It may rain tomorrow.
The flight may be late.
The painting may be a Van Gogh.
Bryan may come with us.

MAY NOT: Negative form:
Something won’t happen, it’s not sure.
I may not have time to do it today.
John may not answer the phone.

MIGHT: modal verb for small possibilities.
We use « might » to suggest something is possible.
It might rain tomorrow.
The flight might be late.
The painting might be a Van Gogh.
Bryan might come with us.

MIGHT = MAY, but with might, possibilities are smaller !
« might » is more used than « may » in spoken english.
If we are not sure, we use « might »:
It might rain this afternoon.
John might be at home by now but I’m not sure at all.
You might not do that.

MIGHT NOT is the negative form.
Something won’t happen, it’s not sure.
I might not arrive in time to the airport.
John might not answer the phone.

MIGHT HAVE is the past form.
He might have tried to call while I was out.
I might not have time to go to the supermarket for you.

We can use « maybe » or « perhaps », but « might » is better:
I might be late. Wait me!