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

Section: 

Comments

Jack may be coming to see us tomorrow.
I might see you tomorrow.
From the above examples could you explain the difference between May and Might.

Hello jackon1992,

When used to describe something which is possible but not certain there is no real difference between may and might. They can be used interchangeably in these sentences.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hi i have question. could you explain between able to and can/could?

Hello hreker,

'can' can be used to refer to the present and future and 'could' to the past, but there are other tenses (e.g. the present perfect) where 'can/could' has no form. In these cases, you can use 'be able to'. There's a good explanation of this on this page in the Cambridge Dictionary – be sure to scroll down the page to where it says 'Be able to'. I think that should clarify this for you, but if not, please don't hesitate to ask us any specific questions you may have.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello!

I have two questions:

First, can it be correct to add "please" to "May I help you?" so that we get "May I help you, please?" Does it add politeness?

Secondly, what is the correct negative answer to the very formal "Might I assist you?"
I guess that "You may not" is the emphatic answer. Can you tell us what some of the other negative answers might be?

Thank you very much.

This site is very informative... I learned a lot,,,kudos to the admin...

Helo LearnEnglish experts.
I am writing my masters thesis in English and it's the second time when I encounter the same problem: how to speak about uncertainty in the past? I am reffering to an old article in which certain results where questioned as uninformative due to procedure weakness. How should I write about this?
I tried: " the authors remark themselves that this (negative result) might be due to the experimental design and imperfections of measure". But shouldn't I use "might had been" (have been?) in this case? Thank you a lot for an answer!

Hello nona999,

It's hard to be sure without knowing the full context but I suspect that you might use one of the following: might have beencould have been or may have been. You could also use it is possible that this was due to or it is possible that this was caused by, though you would need to change the sentence somewhat.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for quick responding! I think that "might have been" should work. However, I wonder if it is still valid if I start the sentence with the past tense:"the authors remarked that...". Would it be the case to use the "might had been"? Do we ever use this form? ....Thank you once more, greetings to my beloved Poland!

Hello nona999,

Yes, you could also use 'remarked' instead of 'remark' – both are fine with 'might have been' afterwards. Modal verbs such as 'might' are not followed by 'had' + a past participle; instead, use 'have' + past participle

Good luck with your thesis!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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