“May” / “might” 1

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Welcome to your “May” / “Might” 1 lesson! In this topic we talk about:
• When do we use “May” and “Might”?
“May” and “Might” in the past
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When do we use “May” and “Might”?

“May” and “might” are used to say that something is a possibility:

“Where is Marie?” “Ask Bob, he might know where she is.”
or “Ask Bob, he may know where she is.”

“It was a wonderful story, do you think it is true?” “It might be.”
or “It may be.”

The negative forms are “may not”, “might not” or “mightn’t”:

“He might not know where she is.”

“He may not know where she is.”

“He mightn’t know where she is.”

I/you/we/they etc.




be (true / in the restaurant etc.)

be (going / doing / seeing etc.)

know / do / want etc.

“May” and “Might” in the past

For the past, we use “might have” or “may have”:

“Wendy didn’t answer my text, she might have been in the shower.”

“I’ve lost my wallet, I may have left it in the shop.”

“Henry didn’t come in to work yesterday, he might have been ill.”

Notice that these sentences use the Present Perfect Simple. The Past Simple is not possible with “might have” and “may have”.

I/you/we/they etc.



(not) have

been (true / in the restaurant etc.)

been (going / doing / seeing etc.)

known / done / wanted etc.


“Could” is similar to “may” and “might”:

“James isn’t here, he could be at home.”

“You don’t have your keys? You could have left them in the shop.”

However, “couldn’t” is not the same as “might not”, “may not” or “mightn’t”:

“Wendy didn’t answer my text, she could not have received it.”
(it is not possible that she received it)

“Wendy didn’t answer my text, she might not have received it.”
(maybe she received it, maybe she didn’t)

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