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Might

"Might" is most commonly used to express possibility. It is also often used in conditional sentences. English speakers can also use "might" to make suggestions or requests, although this is less common in American English.

Examples:

  • Your purse might be in the living room. possibility
  • If I didn't have to work, I might go with you. conditional
  • You might visit the botanical gardens during your visit. suggestion
  • Might I borrow your pen? request

Using "Might" in Present, Past, and Future

Most modal verbs behave quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart below to learn how "might" behaves in different contexts.

Modal Use Positive Forms
1. = Present   2. = Past   3. = Future
Negative Forms
1. = Present   2. = Past   3. = Future
Also use:
might
possibility
1. She might be on the bus. I think her car is having problems.

2. She might have taken the bus. I'm not sure how she got to work.

3. She might take the bus to get home. I don't think Bill will be able to give her a ride.

1. She might not be on the bus. She might be walking home.

2. She might not have taken the bus. She might have walked home.

3. She might not take the bus. She might get a ride from Bill.

could,
may
might
conditional of may
1. If I entered the contest, I might actually win.

2. If I had entered the contest, I might actually have won.

3. If I entered the contest tomorrow, I might actually win. Unfortunately, I can't enter it.

1. Even if I entered the contest, I might not win.

2. Even if I had entered the contest, I might not have won.

3. Even if I entered the contest tomorrow, I might not win.

might
suggestion
1. NO PRESENT FORM

2. You might have tried the cheese cake.

3. You might try the cheesecake.

1. NO PRESENT FORM

2. PAST FORM UNCOMMON

3. You might not want to eat the cheese cake. It's very calorific.

could
might
request

(British form)

Might I have something to drink?

Might I borrow the stapler?

Requests usually refer to the near future.

 NEGATIVE FORMS UNCOMMON could,
may,
can

REMEMBER: "Might not" vs. "Could not"
"Might not" suggests you do not know if something happens. "Could not" suggests that it is impossible for something to happen.

Examples:

  • Jack might not have the key. Maybe he does not have the key.
  • Jack could not have the key. It is impossible that he has the key.

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