may and might 2


We use may and might to talk about possible actions or happenings in the future:

  • I haven’t decided where to go on holiday. I may go to Ireland. (= perhaps I will go there)
  • Take an umbrella with you. It might rain later. (= perhaps it will rain)
  • The bus isn’t always on time. We might have to wait a few minutes. (= perhaps we will have to wait)

The negative forms are may not and might not (mightn’t):

  • Amy may not go out tonight. She isn’t feeling well. (= perhaps she will not go out)
  • There might not be enough time to discuss everything at the meeting. (= perhaps there will not be enough time)


  • I’m going to buy a car. (for sure)
  • I may buy a car. or I might buy a car. (possible)

Usually you can use may or might. So you can say:

  • I may go to Ireland. or I might go to Ireland.
  • Jane might be able to help you. or Jane may be able to help you.

But we use might (not may) when the situation is not real:

  • If they paid me better, I might work harder. (not I may work)

This situation (If they paid me better) is not real. They do not pay me well, so I’m not going to work harder.

Compare may/might be -ing and will be -ing:

  • Don’t phone at 8.30. I’ll be watching the football on TV.
  • Don’t phone at 8.30. I might be watching the football on TV. (= perhaps I’ll be watching it)

We also use may/might be -ing for possible plans. Compare:

  • I’m going to Ireland soon. (for sure)
  • I might be going (or I may be going) to Ireland soon. (possible)

might as well

Helen and Clare have just missed the bus. The buses run every hour

We might as well do something = we should do it because there is no better alternative. There is no reason not to do it. You can also use may as well.

  • a: What time are you going out? b: Well, I’m ready, so I might as well go now. or … I may as well go now.
  • Buses are so expensive these days, you might as well get a taxi. (= taxis are as good, no more expensive than buses

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