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16 / 06 / 2004

REVIEW OF MODAL VERBS-3 --> MAY and MIGHT: meaning and examples

Good morning. Today we will begin to look at specific examples of different modal verbs.

May and Might are two very common English modal verbs that we use to express probability. When we use May and Might the possibility that the action in the main verb will take place is about 50%. And you can use May and Might interchangeably; they add exactly the same probability "attitude" to the main verb!

Example 1 (100% Probability):
I am going to England this summer.

Example 2 (50% Probability):
I may go to England this summer.

Example 3 (50% Probability):
I might go to England this summer.

In Example 1 the speaker has definite plans to go to England in the summer; he or she probably has the airline ticket, hotel reservations, etc. In examples 2 and 3, the speaker mayor may not go and definite plans have probably not been made.

With the present perfect, these two modal verbs can be used to speculate about things that may or may not have happened in the past.

Example 4 (50% Probability):
He may have gone to England. (He may have left yesterday.)

Example 5 (50% Probability):
He might have gone to England. (He might have left yesterday.)

When you say these sentences, you are not sure if the person in question has gone to England or not.

If we are 95% sure about an event that may have or may not have happened in the past, we use the modal verb must. And we use must because we have good evidence that leads us to believe that our speculation is true.

Example 6 (95% Probability):
He must have gone to England; last week he told me that he was going to go and he hasn't come to work today.

If you have any questions about may and might (or must), please don't hesitate to contact me.

I hope you have a great day!