may, might and could

دوره: گرامر انگلیسی در شش دقیقه / درس 16

گرامر انگلیسی در شش دقیقه

60 درس

may, might and could

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Decisions, decisions! Catherine doesnt know what to have for dinner tonight. She might have a curry or she may have a steak. Listen to 6 Minute Grammar to find out what she decides to have - and learn more about using the words may, might and could along the way. Tuck in!

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Sophie Welcome to 6 Minute Grammar with me, Sophie.

N eil
And with me, Neil. Hello.

Sophie Today’s programme is all about the words may, might and could .

Neil Yes, we’ll look at how to use these three little words to talk about present and future possibilities…

Sophie We’ll tell you what to watch out for…

Neil We’ll give you a top tip to make your spoken English sound really natural…

Sophie … and we’ll finish with a quiz.

Neil So listen carefully! Now the first thing to say about may , might and could is that they are
often followed by an infinitive verb without to . And here ‘s Catherine… Hello!

Catherine Hello!

Neil …to bring us our first example. Catherine, what are you having for dinner tonight?

Catherine Well, I may make chicken curry.

Neil Sounds good.

Catherine …Or I might have steak…

Neil Even better.

Catherine …Or I could get a takeaway.

Neil Not very healthy - but very convenient.

Sophie So, tonight Catherine may have chicken; she might have steak: she could get a
takeaway. May , might and could with an infinitive show all three options are future possibilities.

Neil Good. Now those examples were about future possibilities - Catherine’s dinner tonight - but we can also use may, might and could with an infinitive to talk about present possibilities, like this:

Catherine I think Jackie likes chicken - but she might prefer fish. I don’t know where Shaheen is. He could be at work. The agency may have the information you want.

Sophie Right, so that’s present and future possibilities. Now, we can also… (someone knocks at the door) …er, hello?

Woman Oops, sorry - wrong studio!

Neil Who was that?

Sophie I’m not sure. She may be from IT.

Neil Or, she might be the new presenter.

Sophie She could be the studio manager.

Neil We’re all guessing …

Sophie Yes, well, anyway, as I was about to say, we often use may , might and could to make guesses.

Sophie And we’re talking about may , might and could . Now, for negatives, we use might not or or may not . So we can say:

Catherine I might not cook chicken curry. I think that woman is the new studio manager - but she may not be .

Sophie The short form of might not is mightn ‘t , but this is not so usual.

Neil …and some people shorten may not to mayn ‘t , but that’s unusual too.

Sophie Now, we promised you a word of warning…

Neil We did.

Sophie … and here it is. The negative of could is couldn ‘t, but be very careful with couldn’t when you ‘re talking about future possibility or future uncertainty. Neil, give us an example situation.

Neil Yes. Imagine you’re in an airport. Your plane is due to take off in an hour from now, but
the weather is getting worse - you’re getting worried. You might say this:

Catherine If the weather gets worse, our plane could take off late. We might not take off at all!

Neil Now that’s all fine, but if you say: We couldn ‘t take off - you’re talking about an
impossible situation in the past, not an uncertain situation in the future. So you can’t use couldn ‘t in our airport example.

Sophie So watch out for couldn ‘t .

Neil Yes. Stick with might not or may not if you want to play it safe here.

Sophie Now, for questions, you can use might , may and could , but a top tip to make your English sound more natural is to use the phrase Do you think …?

Neil So you can say Might Catherine have chicken curry for dinner ? But it sounds more natural to say Do you think Catherine might have chicken curry for dinner?

Sophie So it’s Do you think , then a subject , then might , may or could plus infinitive .

Neil Sophie, I think we could be ready for our quiz. Number one. Which is the correct answer to the question: Where are you going on holiday? Is it a) I may to go to Spain or b) I may go to Spain.

Sophie It’s b) I may go to Spain.

Neil That’s right. Number two. Which is correct? The traffic is getting worse, so a) I may not be home on time or b) I could not be home on time.

Sophie It’s a) The traffic is getting worse, so I may not be home on time.

Neil And the last one. Which sounds more natural? a) Might we have to go now or b) Do you
think we might have to go now?

Sophie It’s b) Do you think we might have to go now?

Neil Well done if you got those right and yes, we do have to go now. There’s more about this on our website at Join us again for more 6 Minute Grammar.


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