Correct usage of MIGHT.

Is this the correct usage of MIGHT:

Here, the tense is PAST.
Might + finished
Eg: He might finished that job (Possibly he finished it )

Here, the tense is PAST.
Might + Have + finished
Eg: He might have finished that job,when entered into this room (Possibly he finished it at some time in the past )

  1. Is this the correct usage:
  • I wish he had finished the job.
    What i meant is - “How good it is if he already finished the job”

No. He might finish that job = He has not finished it yet, but it’s possible he may in the future.

He might have fnished that job before he entered the room. It’s possible that he completed the job.

Your use of “when he entered this room” is confusing - it sounds like it happened exactly when he entered, but that doesn’t make sense.

I wish he had finished the job: He did not finish it, but I wish that he had done so.

I don’t understand what you mean by “How good it is if he already finished the job”

It would be great if he has finished the job! = I don’t know if he has finished or not, but if he has, that’s good news.

Thank you so much for your answer Barb_D!

Your use of “when he entered this room” is confusing - it sounds like it happened exactly when he entered, but that doesn’t make sense.

I am sorry, I missed the letter “I” and the sentence should be:
He might have finished that job,when — I – entered into this room (Possibly he finished it at some time in the past )

Here, maybe, my question is not clear.

Can i use MIGHT like this:
Question - Francis might finish the job.
Here, my intention is to tell that “Francis already finished the job” (Past tense)
Is this correct?


Hi Suresh

No, that sentence (Francis might finish the job) refers to a possible future activity.

To refer to an activity that has possibly already happened in the past, you need to use “might have finished”.

Modals are very confusing. Don’t be discouraged.

Hi Barb,
So you mean ‘might’ can’t be use as the past form of ‘may’?

Many thanks,

Thank you Yankee, your example cleared my doubt regarding the usage of MIGHT.
And also thank you very much Bard_d, for your good words.
Thanks to all of the folks here at forum.

“How good it would be if…”?

Indeed it can, but what do you think of these?

Q: Has he finished the job?

A: I’m not sure. He may have. I’ll go and check.
A: I’m not sure. He might have. I’ll go and check.

Which reply would you choose and why?

I don’t know much, but, i think - may and might - indicate the strongness of the possibility of a thing/action.
Might-- is stronger than - May.

Many would say it’s the opposite. As most, so called, past tense modals indicate a “weaker” (more remote) option, a lot of people feel that “might” follows suit. Still, I’ve heard a lot of AmEng speakers say that they use “might” as a stronger option.

Might and may are nearly exactly the same BUT… yes there is always a but …

Might can be used for ultimate politeness in a question … Might I use your telephone please? In this case it could be seen as being more polite than May I use your telephone please?

In the situation of possibility … might and may are the same … I may see him tomorrow, or I might see him tomorrow.

The main difference between “may and might” in questioning is that “may” has strong connections with permission …

For people starting to get accustomed the use of “may and might” I tend to tell then to start by using “may” for permission and “might” for possibility. BUT (yes another but) be open to the fact that you will/may/might (smile) hear both “may” and “might” being used in situations consisting only of possibility.

Answer these questions with “may or might” to see if you understand …

POLICEMAN: Sorry Sir, you ______ not park there! (permission)
FRIEND: ____ borrow your car today? (permission)
SPEAKING TO A FRIEND: My manager ______ let me finish work early tomorrow. (possibility)
ASKING TO USE THE TOILET: ____ use your toilet please? (permission)

Get the idea?

Now in which ones do you think both may and might can be used and why?

For many speakers, they are not the same. For many, might expresses a more distant possibility.

May in the first because the speaker has the authority to impose the prohibition, to withold permission.

May or might in any of the others because of levels of politeness or, in the case of #2 and #3 because of the levels of tentativeness or imposition.

Correct Molly.

But we need to start somewhere, learners can learn that later (smile)

Not in my opinion. Many problems appear later due to oversimplified or incorrect explanations in the early stages of learning a language.

I was taught that all full-modals, apart from must, have a proximal and a remote use, even though those words were not used by my teacher. Modals are used in the same way as full-verbs in that each can express closeness or distance in TIME, POSSIBILTY and/or SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS. I think one should begin from there when teaching the basic semantic meaning of all verbs.

This is the difference Molly between teaching English to an English speaker and teaching English to a non English speaker !!!

There is a wide difference in opinion in how ESL should be taught, but I have found in over 35 years, that for ESL the best way is to teach them how to communicate effectively using all the tricks in the book to ease understanding and put them on a path to further progress.

After all, unless they want English perfection and can fully understand the language being used to teach the language they wish to learn, the effectiveness of going into every grammatical nitty gritty is basically useless!! Shoot me for it, but it is true. My explanation cannot be said by anyone to be oversimplified or incorrect for use by an ESL speaker.

Additionally, one must also appreciate that the ESL speaker, unlike a native English speaker, is not obliged to learn English, this means that any initial motivation can be quickly lost, due to those fully encompassing explanations out of the native English classroom. A balance must be achieved between what you want to teach them and what they need to know. Naturally we must also appreciate for what purpose they wish to learn the language, also a very important factor.

Only my opinion. Others will think differently, but I don’t intend to go to war with anyone. Everyone has the right to their own opinions.

The story is never black and white!

That’s all fine, but even a 35-year-man can learn more about teaching and learning, can’t he? To me, and quite a few others -teachers and students alike - the idea of proximal versus remote forms is simple and effective and, more importantly, systematic. That way, that idea, allowed me to understand the use of modals and other verbs. Before all that, there had been many “explanations”, by many teachers who thought they were simplyfying things. Thing is, those teachers loved what they saw as simplyfying usage - mainly because it normally made the job easier at that moment - but the same teachers didn’t want to know about possible consequences of their attempts to simplify.

This comment seems pretty monochrome. :wink:

WOW MOLLY I love you … You really think I look 35? (smile)

In the photo, you look around 35mm and blurry. :wink: