We use may and might to say that there is a chance of something: perhaps it is true, or perhaps it will happen.
- We may go climbing in the Alps next summer. (= Perhaps we’ll go.) ‘Where’s Emma?’ I don’t know. She maybe shopping, I suppose.’
Peter might phone. If he does, could you ask him to ring again later?
I might get a job soon. ‘ ‘Yes, and pigs might fly. ‘(= ‘It’s very unlikely.’)
- We do not use may in questions about probability.
Do you think you’ll go camping this summer?
(NOT May you go camping this summer?)
Might is not the past of may. It is used to talk about a smaller chance than may. Compare:
- I may go to London tomorrow, (perhaps a 50 per cent chance.)
Joe might come with me. (perhaps a 30 per cent chance.)
- Might (but not may) can have a conditional use.
If you went to bed for an hour you might feel better.
(= . . . perhaps you would feel better.)
- We use a special structure to talk about the chance that something happened in the past.
may/might have + past participle
‘Polly’s very late.’ ‘She may have missed her train.’
‘What was that noise?’ ‘It might have been a cat. ‘
We can use the same structure (with might only) to say that something was possible, but did not happen.
That was a bad place to go skiing. You might have broken your leg. (Could have … is used in the same way.