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

Hello...
Please, I want to know the main difference between may and might, and when (may be ) are used.
Thank you

Hi Team,
I noticed in the modal verbs examples the following and wondered if it might be a punctuation error.
Verbs - may, might, may have, might have
Last entry
= May I have your attention, please
Should the above sentence not have a question mark?

Hello GerryVick,

That's a good point. The sentence you point out isn't really a question, but rather a very indirect command, which is why there is not question mark here. Some might prefer to use a question mark, as of course the sentence is formed as a question -- and there's nothing wrong with that, I'd say -- but since it's not really a question, here we've just used a full stop.

Thanks very much for pointing this out to us, though!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Is "There may have been a pen on the table" correct? Why? Can I say "There may has been a pen on the table"? (there has been a pen = singular)

Hello Cristina,

Yes, the first sentence is correct, but not the second one. This is because 'may' is a modal verb, and all modal verbs are followed a bare infinitive form (when the next word is a verb). 'has' is not an infinitive form, whereas 'have' is.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi!
Please, I want to know if the following are correct:
1. Might you have been learning English by June next year?
2. You might have been learning English by June next year.

Hello judeee,

The sentences are grammatically correct, but I can't imagine a context in which they would make sense. In fact as the sentences have no context it's not clear to me what you are trying to say here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Situation: I am telling someone about the disease.
The disease is passive right now but it may/might get active in future (or the future)

Hello Asgharkhan8,

I'm not sure what your question is here. If you could you be clearer about it then we'll try to help.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Could you please differentiate them?
He may be call me tomorrow.
He may call me tomorrow.
He may be calling me tomorrow.

Pages