MAY AND MIGHT
We use May and Might to talk about possible actions or happenings in the future:
• I haven’t decided yet where to spend my holidays. I may go to Ireland. (= perhaps I will go to Ireland)
• Take an umbrella with you when you go out. It might rain later. (=perhaps it will rain)
• The bus doesn’t always come 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)
• Ann may not come to the party tonight. She isn’t well.
• There might not be a meeting on Friday because the director is ill.
• We use might when the situation isn’t real:
• If I knew them better, I might invite them to dinner. (the situation here is not real because I don’t know them
very well, so I’m not going to invite them.)
We use must to say that we feel sure something is true:
• You’ve been travelling all day. You must be tired.
• Carol must get very bored in her job. She does the same thing every day.
• I must pay my cell phone account today, or I will be in trouble.
The negative of must is must not or mustn’t
• You mustn’t say that bad words to me, it is awful!!!
We use can to say that something is possible or that somebody has the ability to do something:
• We can see the lake from bedroom window
• Can you speak any foreign languages?
• I can come and see you tomorrow if you like
• She can speak Spanish very well
The negative is can’t or cannot:
• I’m afraid I can’t come to the party on Friday night.
• He can’t dance salsa music even though he was attending to some dance classes downtown.
Don’t forget that the simple past of CAN is COULD , but we use “could” specially with:
See hear smell taste feel remember understand
We also use “could” to say that somebody had the general ability or permission to do something:
• My grandfather could speak five languages
• We were completely free. We could do what we wanted.
• The negative couldn’t (could not) is possible in all situations:
Notice that modals verbs are the same for all the subject pronouns, they don’t change their ways, for
example, You say: She can play the piano
You don’t say: SHE CANS PLAY THE PIANO
The same is for the rest of the modal verbs, they NEVER change with ANY subject pronouns
• My uncle couldn’t swim.
• We tried hard but we couldn’t persuade them to come with us.
• Alf played well but he couldn’t beat Jack.