Unit 30. may and might (2) – grammar in use

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)
For will be ~ing see Unit 24.
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)



Unit 30. may and might (2) – grammar in use