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, I have the following question: how can we express a future probability? in other words, is the following sentence right? "In that case I will may need your help"
Thank you for your answer.

Hi Mikeb,

We use only one modal verb - either 'will' or 'may' - but not both. To express probability 'may' is likely to be better here as 'will' suggests certainty rather than probability.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I have a question about modals.Please help me to choose the best answer.
Kate ... change her mind if we keep on at her.
a)might b)might have to

Hello,

Both of those sentences are good English, so I can't choose between them! They have slightly different meanings, so it depends what you want to say.

Best wishes,

Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

when we use this phrase "To be"?
What comes to our mind when we use it?

An example - It has to be done.

I know it is a passive voice, but I still cannot make the sense why I am using the phrase "To be".

Hello Rox4090,

This is an example of a passive infinitive:

I have to do it. [infinitive]

It has to be done. [passive infinitive]

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I understand your point, and lets check my understanding although it is a simple topic.

Example: Everyone has to shut this door all the time. [infinitive]

This door has to be shut all the time.[ passive infinitive]

Hello Rox4090,

Yes, that is correct. However, note that in your second sentence 'shut' can also be an adjective and the phrase 'all the time' makes this the most likely alternative. If you rephrase the sentence it makes the passive clearer:

This door has to be shut by all who enter.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir,
What would you say in English :
He may not have remembered the date.
or rather
He may have not remembered the date.
Thanks!

Hello Fallvn,

Both forms are used, but the first one ('may not have remembered') is the one I'd recommend you use.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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