Friday, May 24

Might, May, Might As Well etc.

Might” is one of the Modal Verbs.

(If you don’t know what a Modal Verb is and you would like a quick review, just click our links below:

There are many kinds of Modal Verbs and they all have different meanings. But “Might” is used to express:

#1. possibility

#2. permission

#3. suggestion

These are the main functions of “Might.” There are others but these are the most important.

Before we talk about these different functions, first let’s review the basics…

How to Use “Might”

As a Modal Verb, “Might” must always be followed by the Base Verb.


Might join = Ok

Might come = Ok

Might to study = X

Might watched = X

Might talking = X

Or, you can use it alone:

A: Hey, are you going to go to Sam’s party tonight?

B: I might. = Ok

Of course it isn’t advisable to use “Might” or any Modal Verb alone if there is no clear connection to a Main Verb in the situation.

For example,

A: There’s a party at Sam’s tonight.

B: I might. = X

B: I might to Sam’s party. = X

The negative form of “Might” is “Might not.” And its shortened form “Mightn’t” can also be used.

Mightn’t” is common in both speaking and writing, except in formal writing.  This is because sometimes “Mightn’t” tends to be very informal.  

She might not come. = Ok

She mightn’t come. = Ok

Past Tense

Although it’s true that “Might” is the Past Tense of “May,” this is especially true in the case of Reported Speech.

For example,


He: “I may come.”

They: “We may go out tonight.”


He told me that he might come.

They said that they might go out tonight.

( If you’d like to learn more about Direct and Reported Speech, just click:

But most of the time, “Might” is Present Tense too. Its Past Tense is “Might Have.”

It’s used to talk about a past possibility that didn’t happen. For example,

We were lucky. We might have been killed. = Ok

May vs. Might

In general, “Might” is common in conversation (speaking) while “May” is common in writing.

But let’s discuss them in different situations:

#1. Possibility

First of all, “Might” is used to talk about possibility. This is why it is often matched with the meaning of “perhaps.”

For example,

A: Where are they?

B: They might be inside the room. ( = Perhaps they are inside the room.)

A: What are you going to do this weekend?

B: I might go to the beach. ( = Perhaps I will go to the beach)

Usually, “May” and “Might” can be used interchangeably:

A: Where are they?

B: They may be inside the room. = Ok

A: What are you going to do this weekend?

B: I may go to the beach. = Ok

But except when we are talking about a possibility that is unreal. In this case, it's impossible to use "May." 

If I had a lot of money, I may buy a Ferrari. = X

If I had a lot of money, I might buy a Ferrari. = Ok

#2. Permission

Might” is also used to ask permission politely.

Ex. Might I borrow your pen? = Ok

Might I speak to you for a moment? = Ok

In this case, it and “May” are again interchangeable:

May I see that? = Ok

May I make a suggestion? = Ok

But both “May” and “Might” are more formal than “Can” or “Could” :

Ex. Can I borrow your pen? = Ok

Can I speak to you for a moment? = Ok

Could I see that? = Ok

Could I make a suggestion? = Ok

#3. Suggestion 

To make a suggestion, you can also use “Might.” This is another polite expression.


I thought we might go to the park.

If you need more information, you might want to visit our website.

It might be a good idea to return those DVDs to the rental shop.

In this case though, “Might” and “May” are different. “May” tends to be more formal in expressions like:

May I suggest

If I may


May I suggest that you verify the information.

Let me, if I may, introduce my business partner.

#4. Other Phrases / Idioms

As you might expect / imagine = We say this when we don’t think that something is surprising

Ex. As you might expect, the new version will take longer to be released.

I might have known / guessed = We say this when we aren’t surprised at a situation

Ex. I might have known that he would be absent again.

I might say = We use this to add emphasis to what we are saying

Ex. It was, I might say, a shame.

May as well / Might as well = We say this to make a suggestion when we can’t think of anything better to do.

Ex. The last train has already left. We might as well take a taxi.

Might / May (Very) Well = We use this when we want to say that something is likely to be true or likely to happen.

Ex. She may well not want to join.

Hope You Learned Something!

Keep on learning !

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