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May / Might

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May / Might

Mensaje  Compilator el Dom Jul 27, 2008 5:13 pm

May



"May" is most commonly used to express possibility. It can also be used to give or request permission, although this usage is becoming less common.

Examples:

Cheryl may be at home, or perhaps at work. possibility
Johnny, you may leave the table when you have finished your dinner. give permission
May I use your bathroom? request permission


Using "May" in Present, Past, and Future

Most modal verbs behave quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart below to learn how "may" behaves in different contexts.

1- May: Possibility

Present:
Jack may be upset. I can't really tell if he is annoyed or tired.
Jack may not be upset. Perhaps he is tired.

Past:
Jack may have been upset. I couldn't really tell if he was annoyed or tired.
Jack may not have been upset. Perhaps he was tired.

Future:
Jack may get upset if you don't tell him the truth.
Jack may not get upset, even if you tell him the truth.

You can also use "might ".

2- May: Give permission

Present:
You may leave the table now that you're finished with your dinner.
You may not leave the table. You're not finished with your dinner yet.

Past: SHIFT TO "BE ALLOWED TO"
You were allowed to leave the table after you finished your dinner.
You were not allowed to leave the table because you hadn't finished your dinner.

Future:
You may leave the table when you finish your dinner.
You may not leave the table until you are finished with your dinner.

You can also use "can".

3- May: Request permission

May I borrow your eraser?
May I make a phone call?

Requests usually refer to the near future.

NO NEGATIVE FORMS

You can also use "can" or "might".



Might



"Might" is most commonly used to express possibility. It is also often used in conditional sentences. English speakers can also use "might" to make suggestions or requests, although this is less common in American English.

Examples:

Your purse might be in the living room. possibility
If I didn't have to work, I might go with you. conditional
You might visit the botanical gardens during your visit. suggestion
Might I borrow your pen? request

Using "Might" in Present, Past, and Future

Most modal verbs behave quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart below to learn how "might" behaves in different contexts.

1- Might: Possibility

Present:
She might be on the bus. I think her car is having problems.
She might not be on the bus. She might be walking home.

Past:
She might have taken the bus. I'm not sure how she got to work.
She might not have taken the bus. She might have walked home.

Future:
She might take the bus to get home. I don't think Bill will be able to give her a ride.
She might not take the bus. She might get a ride from Bill.

You can also use "could" or "may".

2- Might: Conditional of may

Present:
If I entered the contest, I might actually win.
Even if I entered the contest, I might not win.

Past:
If I had entered the contest, I might actually have won.
Even if I had entered the contest, I might not have won.

Future:
If I entered the contest tomorrow, I might actually win. Unfortunately, I can't enter it.
Even if I entered the contest tomorrow, I might not win.

3- Might: Suggestion

NO PRESENT FORM

Past:
You might have tried the cheese cake.

Future:
You might try the cheesecake.
You might not want to eat the cheese cake. It's very calorific.

You can also use "could".

4- Might: Request
(British form)

Might I have something to drink?
Might I borrow the stapler?

Requests usually refer to the near future.
NEGATIVE FORMS UNCOMMON
You can also use "could", "may" or "can".

REMEMBER: "Might not" vs. "Could not"
"Might not" suggests you do not know if something happens. "Could not" suggests that it is impossible for something to happen.

Examples:

Jack might not have the key. Maybe he does not have the key.
Jack could not have the key. It is impossible that he has the key.

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