#210: 7 Expert Ways to Use ‘Might’ in English [English Modal Verb]

by | Jul 7, 2021 | 18 comments

Did you know the English modal verb ‘might’ can be used to: 

  • Predict events
  • Indicate possibility
  • Highlight a lack of alternatives
  • Make a suggestion
  • Pose brainstorming questions
  • Indicate frustrations
  • Form conditionals
Using the English modal verb ‘might’ correctly can add layers of meaning to your sentence. Plus, it indicates an advanced level of knowledge and ability in your English grammar.
In this Confident English lesson, you’ll learn 7 Expert Ways to Use ‘Might.’

7 Expert Ways to Use the English Modal ‘Might’

LESSON SUMMARY

To make a prediction

  • We use “might” to make predictions of events that are highly likely to occur.
  • In this case, “might” is often followed by an infinitive without the word “to” 
    • Ex. It might rain tonight. Remember to take your umbrella.
    • Our boss might be displeased if we don’t submit the proposals on time.

To suggest a possibility

    • Did you know that might can be used to suggest a possibility in the past, present or future? 
    • Let’s look at some examples of each:
      • Dr. Kang might be available on the 26th.
      • The interview might be postponed if there are technical difficulties. 
      • The manager might not receive your email in time.
    • However, we also use “might” to express that a seemingly impossible event/thing has a decent shot ( = a good likelihood of succeeding); we often use ‘just’ with might for this meaning
      • We just might be able to finish the meeting early.
      • That just might be the solution to our problem!
    • Similarly, we use “might” to express the possibility of a past event.
      • You might have left your sunglasses on the beach. 
      • The salesperson might have accidentally charged you twice for the shirt. 

To express a lack of alternatives/a last resort

( = a final course of action, used only when all else has failed)

    • We can use might to express that there is only one course of action. To do this, we use the phrase “might as well”. 
      • The movie doesn’t start until 9 PM; we might as well eat dinner and come back.
      • We might as well begin planning next week’s team meeting, since we’re ahead of schedule.

To make a suggestion or express an obligation

    • “Might” is a powerful word for politely suggesting something and for implying that someone is obligated to do something. 
      • Let’s say you’re looking to move into a new apartment. You ask your friend for advice and she says:
          • You might want to take some time to think about the apartment before you rent it. 
          • You might want to discuss the details with your family before you decide.
          • It might be wise to do some more research before you share your ideas.

To Pose Questions 

    • To Brainstorm Solutions/Strategies
    • We can use “might” in a question to kickstart a brainstorming session
      • How might we reduce our expenses? 
      • What might be the best way to approach this client?
    • To ask for permission
      • Might I interrupt you for a moment? 
    • To simply ask a question
      • I was wondering if you might be interested in joining the team?

To express frustration/sarcasm

    • We can express negative emotions by using a falling intonation with “might questions”. 
      • Ex. If you’re attempting to schedule a conversation with a contractor/doctor/lawyer, but their staff keeps giving you the runaround ( = difficult or awkward treatment, especially in which someone is evasive or avoids a question), you might express frustration when you say “Well, what time might that be?”
      • If someone continuously expresses outlandish ideas, you may feel frustrated and challenge them by asking, “How exactly might you be planning to do that?”

To create a conditional

    • We can also use might to express that something has/had the possibility of occurring as a result of another event
        • I might’ve passed the bar exam if I had studied a little more. 
        • If she’s punctual every day, she might not get fired
        • The event might not have been a success, had you not found a venue at the last minute.

Now it’s time for challenge quiz! How would you use ‘might’ to answer these questions:

  1. What might you be doing if you hadn’t pursued a career in your current field? 
  2. The pandemic has been an eye-opening experience. How might someone manage stress and maintain good mental health? 
  3. Why might someone choose to learn English online instead of in a physical classroom?

The best place to practice and share is in the comment section below.

Have a fantastic Confident English Wednesday!

~ Annemarie

 

P.S. Are you looking for a community to provide support, help you stay motivated, and guarantee that you grow? Check out our Confident Women Community.

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