may, might, may have and might have

 

Questions and negatives:

We make questions by putting the subject after may/might:
May I …? Could I … Might I …? Etc.

The negative forms are may not and might not..

We use may:

  • when we are not sure about something:

Jack may be coming to see us tomorrow.
Oh dear! It’s half past ten. We may be late for the meeting.
There may not be very many people there.

  • to make polite requests:

May I borrow the car tomorrow?
May we come a bit later?

When we use may not for a refusal it is emphatic:

You may not!
You may not borrow the car until you can be more careful with it.

We use might:

• when we are not sure about something:

I might see you tomorrow.
It looks nice, but it might be very expensive.
It’s quite bright. It might not rain today.

• As the past tense of may for requests:

He asked if he might borrow the car.
They wanted to know if they might come later.

• For very polite requests:

Might I ask you a question?
Might we just interrupt for a moment?

We use may have and might have to show that something has possibly happened now or happened at some time in the past:

It’s ten o’clock. They might have arrived now.[= Perhaps they have arrived]
They may have arrived hours ago. [= Perhaps they arrived hours ago.]

 

Exercise

Comments

Hi! learnenglish team
I completely failed to understand the meaning of these two sentenses.
1. how's the new job? are you getting used to it yet?
2. the noise was deafening but the driver was used to it?
could you please clarify to me?
thank you.

Hi sir
I have a question about the use of "used to and be/get used to" in the explanations i have read it is written that "used to" reffers to something happened in the past and no longer happening now. How about "be/get used to" does it also reffers the same?
Please assist me
Thanks

Hi Oscas,

We have a page that explains the difference between 'used to + infinitive' and 'be/get used to'. If you search for 'used to' in our search box, you'll see it's the first result. That page should help you with the question in this and your other comment.

Please try to find explanations on LearnEnglish before asking your questions. You might be able to find the answer, and if you don't, at least you can find a more appropriate page to ask your question on.

Thanks and best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hi teacher
we see that may and might both used when we are not sure about something so from this perspective are these sentenses below
1. I might see you tommorow
2. I may see you tommorow
have the same meaning or the second one is not correct?
thanks

although my question not replied i read other people's comments and i found the answer my self. thanks

Dear Sir,
unfortunately, I do not see the difference in the meaning between 'may' and 'might' in simple sentences, wich descript something - but not in form of questions. Would you explain it me? Thanks a lot.

For example:
'He may call.' versus 'He might call.' What do these modals denotes actually?

Hello Mike One,

In modern English both 'may' and 'might' can be used interchangeably to talk about possibility.  Some people argue that 'might' suggests that something is less likely than 'may', but I think there is little evidence for this and which of the two is used is really more a question of personal style and preference than anything else.  Certainly, when talking about possibility I cannot think of a sentence where only one of the two would be possible, or where the meaning would change if the other were used.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter,
I thank you for your kind of clearing, too. So, I think my question is answered for my using of english completely, absolut satisfactorily and reassuringly.

Best wishes and good working here,
Mike

dear sir,
could you tell me the difference between these sentence.
1. she might have taken the earlier train.
2. she could have taken the earlier train.
thank you

Hi akhi,

As is explained above, might have refers to something that possibly happened just now or in the past. could have also has this same meaning, but can also mean that she was able to take the train but did not do so.

In other words, the second sentence has an additional possible meaning that the first one does not.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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