Learn and practise the use of may and might.AStudy this example situation:
– He may be in his office. (= perhaps he is in his office)
– He might be having lunch. (= perhaps he is having lunch)
– Ask Kate. She might know. (= perhaps she knows)
We use may or might to say that something is possible. You can use may or might:
- It may be true. or It might be true. (= perhaps it is true)
- She might know. or She may know.
The negative forms are may not and might not:
- It may not be true. (= perhaps it isn’t true)
- She might not know. (= perhaps she doesn’t know)
Note the difference between may be (2 words) and maybe (1 word):
- It may be true. (may + verb)
- ‘Is it true?’ ‘Maybe. I’m not sure.’ (maybe = it’s possible, perhaps)
a: I wonder why Kate didn’t answer her phone.
b: She may have been asleep. (= perhaps she was asleep)
a: I can’t find my phone anywhere.
b: You might have left it at work. (= perhaps you left it at work)
a: Why wasn’t Amy at the meeting yesterday?
b: She might not have known about it. (= perhaps she didn’t know)
a: I wonder why David was in such a bad mood yesterday.
b: He may not have been feeling well. (= perhaps he wasn’t feeling well)
C could is similar to may and might:
- It’s a strange story, but it could be true. (= it is possible that it’s true)
You could have left your phone at work. (= it’s possible that you left it there)
But couldn’t (negative) is different from may not and might not. Compare:
- Sarah couldn’t have received my message. Otherwise she would have replied. (= it is not possible that she got my message)
- Why hasn’t Sarah replied to my message? I suppose she might not have received it. (= it’s possible that she didn’t receive it – perhaps she did, perhaps she didn’t)