Introduction to Dialogue 13
'May' and 'might' are modal auxiliary verbs. They are used mainly to talk about the chance or possibility of something happening in the future.
The grammar books say that 'might' suggests a smaller chance than 'may' -
I think we might go to London next week. ( perhaps a 30-40% chance of going)
I think we may go to London next week. ( perhaps a 50-60% chance of going)
However many English speakers have no awareness of the difference and the chance is more likely to be shown by the context or the tone of certainty in the voice -
I think we might go to London next week! ( spoken very firmly.....so a good chance of going)
I think we may go to London next week....(spoken with uncertainty..so there is some doubt)
All more advanced English students should be aware of the difference in the degree of certainty 'may' implying more certainty than 'might' but the rest of us 'may' interchange these words when talking about future happenings!
Listen to the use of varying use of 'may' and 'might' in the dialogue.
C. I think we might go to London next week. The weather is starting to get cold and it might be the last chance of going on a warm day before it get's colder.
G. Why? It's a long way and it's expensive to get there!
C. No it's not. It's only one hour on the train and we may be able to get cheap tickets at the moment. We might take sandwiches for lunch to save money - although we may get a meal in Chinatown later in the day.
G. Why do we need to go? What do you want to see?
C. Culture......., Museums, Art galleries and all that. There's so much to do in London and autumn is a great time to go.
G. Oh and I might go on the London Eye. Lovely views of the river and Westminster.
C. No you can't - It's too expensive and there may be long queues, and you don't like queuing. I think we might go to the British Museum. There's an exhibition on Egypt's underwater cities which looks interesting and we might also go to.........
G. I like all the old clocks there. They have clocks which are 300 years old. Mechanical of course.... not like all the electronic clocks we have today. Do you think we might be able to spend a few minutes in the clock room.
C. Yes ......we might. ... The Egyptian exhibition is about cities which existed 3000 years ago. You might find it interesting!
G. I might ....but I may find the clocks more interesting. ... How much time do we need to spend there. You are always in these exhibitions for about 2 hours whereas I can get round in 15 minutes. You may be hours in there and I may get very bored waiting for you.
C. Well you may finish going round before me but you might go to the clock gallery afterwards and you can always go to the cafe there and have a nice coffee. There may be some of that chocolate cake that you like.
G. I'm trying to lose weight - you keep calling me obese and say I look like a seal especially when I'm wearing my wetsuit .
C. Well..... you won't be wearing your wet suit again until we go to Cornwall next summer and you may need to lose weight to get into it next year. We are talking about London at the moment and you won't be going to London in your wetsuit! We might need to take warm coats as it may be cold. We might be able to leave our coats and bags in the museum cloakroom,
G. OK..I might enjoy going to the Egyptian exhibition.
C. No might about it! You will enjoy it. I know you will! I might go to the bookshop afterwards. There may be something of interest.
G. We do have a lot of books in our house and we did agree we wouldn't buy any more. If you buy any more, the bookshelves may collapse.
C. I know but there may be some really interesting books there! We might be able to get some Christmas presents!
G. Are we going to spend the whole day there!
C. Depends on the weather. If it's a lovely sunny day we might go for a walk by the river. Get some fresh air!!.....and we may have time to go to Chinatown for a meal.
G. That would be nice.
Review of Dialogue 13
In the dialogue we made extensive use of 'may' and 'might' whilst talking about a possible future visit to London. After both we used the infinitive of the verb without the 'to'. -
We might go.....we might take....there may be....you might find...I might get....the bookshelves may collapse.
For the negative form we just insert 'not' before the infinitive. -
We might not go.....there may not be....the bookshelves may not collapse!
Ged may not like the exhibition and may not get any chocolate cake in the cafe!