Sophie is in Bali this week and she discovers some unusual Indonesian food. 

We use the modal verbs might, may and could + an infinitive form without to when we think it is possible that something is true. We use must when we are sure it is true and can’t when we are sure it isn’t true.

So we can use might, may and could for making guesses?

Yes. They’re all used when we are not sure about something, but we think that it is possible that it is true.

They might be some kind of small pig.

But could I also say, 'They could be a kind of pig' or 'They may be a kind of pig'?

Yes, you could. The meanings are really similar. You can choose whether to use may, might or could.

Ah, OK. So if I'm not sure about something I can use may, might or could and the meaning is almost the same. That's easy to remember. 

Yes, that's right. But there's something else which affects the meaning, and that's how you say it; the 'intonation'. If you stress maymight or could it sounds less probable.

It could be mango juice.   (less likely)
It could be mango juice.   (more likely)

OK, and if I’m sure about something, what modals do I use?

We use must if we think something is true and can’t if we think something isn’t true.

So, it must come from an animal.
That looks like tomato juice, but it can’t be, that would be too easy.

Do the verb forms change in the third person?

No, they don’t change. They are the same in the first, second and third person.

Great! I think I like these modals!

You're right. Once you know the rules, they're pretty easy. Don't forget they are always followed by the infinitive form without to. We also use may/might + be + -ing for something happening right now or a possible future arrangement.

That might be Mum phoning from Bali.
She might be going to Australia
.

You also used 'it could be a kind of pig' for describing something in the present.

Yes, but that was with the verb to be, a stative verb. We use the –ing form with active or dynamic verbs.

I see. Is there anything else to be careful about?

Yes, if you are talking about possibility in the past you need the modal + have + past participle.

She might have taken those photos in China.
I may have thrown it away by mistake.

Hmm. I think I may need to practise these verbs a bit.

Yes, you might be right!

 

Discussion

What might you have for supper tonight? Do you think you may visit the UK one day? 

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Comments

strawberry123_'s picture
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strawberry123_ 26 August, 2021 - 11:49

I might have chicken with pasta for dinner tonight. I hope I may visit UK one day. I really would love to do. I read a lot about this country, especially about London, there`re so many interesting and unusual places to visit, so I hope, one day I`ll have an opportunity to do it.

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Geovana123's picture
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Geovana123 2 August, 2021 - 18:52

I'll probably have soup for dinner today, and I love soup, it doesn't matter if it's cold or hot, every day is soup day.
About the UK, it would be really cool to visit him someday, maybe on an exchange, because plane tickets are very expensive, or maybe when I'm a millionaire, lol.

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viniciuslampert's picture
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viniciuslampert 30 July, 2021 - 15:53

Today is friday, so i'm probably going to eat a sandwich, but tomorrow, saturday, we'll gonna eat some pizza. Eating pizza at saturday night it's a tradition in my family.
And yes, i would love to visit the UK one day, It's a peaceful and developed country.

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ruth_mrr's picture
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ruth_mrr 29 July, 2021 - 05:41

It's cold outside so I'm having a vegetables soup for supper tonight. Yes I think I may travel to the UK at some point, it's a beautiful country and has a really amazing culture so why not? But before that i will need to improve my english and save a lot of money.

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Mamou1's picture
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Mamou1 22 July, 2021 - 11:32

Today I might have for supper somme fried chicken, plantin and salad it's not my favorite dish but i don't hate it. Now you are asking, I always wanted to visit UK for just tree weeks mabe or 3 moths and may be one day I coud realize that dream. Buckimgam palace, big ben even seing the queen ( if I had an opportunity) go to liverpool I just want to see all these places an enjoy the moment.

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Cfvdv's picture
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Cfvdv 1 April, 2021 - 19:07

I might be having pork meat for supper today. We often have our meat with beans, salad and rice. Yes I think I am going to visit the UK, because I have family there, and I would like very much to visit there.

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Arivelde's picture
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Arivelde 30 March, 2021 - 17:10

I might have some salad and some kind of animal protein for my supper tonight. And I may go to the UK some day, because I have some relatives living there at this moment, we don't know them really well, but it's family, so it should be no problem.

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milenaxps's picture
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milenaxps 3 August, 2021 - 04:28

Even if today is Monday my dinner could be barbecue, along with vegetables and mayonnaise. Yes, I want to visit the UK one day, it's on my travel list.

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Didik's picture
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Didik 24 March, 2021 - 20:43

Tonight I might have beef with some rice and beans. Yes I think someday I might visit the UK becouse my cousins live there and they say it is a very nice and beaultifull country.

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Natiiiiiiiiiiiii's picture
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Natiiiiiiiiiiiii 26 February, 2021 - 22:00

What might you have for supper tonight? Do you think you may visit the UK one day?

I might I am going to have for supper tonight ice scream because is birthday of my uncle, Also, I consider that I may visit the UK in 1 or 2 years. First I have to be independent and save money.

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Kostantinus's picture
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Kostantinus 28 January, 2021 - 09:38

Today I might be having some cottage cheese and a cup of tea for my supper. I think in the future I may work in the UK.

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Andrii's picture
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Andrii 30 December, 2020 - 15:04

Tonight for supper I might have either pasta, or grilled potatoes. And I think I may visit the UK one day because I travel a lot.

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Theo's picture
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Theo 25 October, 2020 - 20:08

The asian food is really strange. My uncle has traveled to SIngapore. He said that you can eat fried grasshoppers and crickets just right on the street! It's strange.

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Languizir's picture
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Languizir 7 September, 2020 - 11:22

I love this article.
And for supper, I would like to eat the cobra blood like these kinds of soldiers, they are fascinating.

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Giovannichoi's picture
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Giovannichoi 10 July, 2020 - 03:19

I wish my lunch or supper is 떡볶이(Tteokbokki), but maybe it will just usual rice. And; hey, Cobra blood? Yuck! Bats? Yuck!! WORMS? YUCKYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Maybe I would never, ever go to Bali. NEVER!!

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hermione123's picture
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hermione123 11 April, 2021 - 12:39

I've visited Bali when I was 5 years old. And it turned out to be an awesome trip. Are you sure you won't visit Bali? It's a beautiful place. With so many amazing beaches and wonderful scenery. And i guess you'll find more delicious Indonesian food. Not just those extreme foods. And many restaurants sell western foods. Because, there are so many tourists. If you go to the mall you'll find Mexican, Indian, korean, Chinese and japanese food. Bali is international destination the food that are sold there comes from different places in the world.

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Youjiro's picture
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Youjiro 2 February, 2019 - 10:32

I might have doing exercise.Tonight I prepare sports competition for next month.It organized high school.I'll attend some truck race.Additionally I might have cook beef to get protein .I may visit UK one day.I suppose UK's weather is foggy and cloudy all of time.Temperature is cold also chilly.

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Elsa007's picture
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Elsa007 25 December, 2016 - 13:42

Yacky----!!
I might have grilled chickens and vegetables for supper tonight.
I think I may not visit Balli one day!

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englishmeow's picture
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englishmeow 21 March, 2016 - 21:25

I have a quick question. I like how your exercises and videos explain everything, but for modals, can a change in the intention cause a change in the sentence structure or the meaning of the sentence?

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Jo - Coordinator's picture
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Jo - Coordinator 22 March, 2016 - 08:07

Hi englishmeow! Are you talking about intonation? The way we say something doesn't change the structure, but we can change the meaning by putting more or less emphasis on particular words. Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish teens team)

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princess2001's picture
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princess2001 9 December, 2015 - 18:15

though I wanna learn English but I can't maintain regularity in visiting your site. whenever I get bored, I open it. I get happy to learn something more of spoken English.

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Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
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Jonathan - Coor... 10 December, 2015 - 01:52

Hi princess2001. That's great! Come back and visit the site often as we publish new material almost every week. :)
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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princess2001's picture
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princess2001 9 December, 2015 - 17:54

We might have some special dish in supper tonight. I think i may not visit the UK in my life.

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anime_lover's picture
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anime_lover 4 October, 2015 - 14:36

i am confused in this example:
It could be mango juice. (less likely)
It could be mango juice. (more likely)
what is the difference between both of them i really don't understand and need help
and thanks for these amazing videos, they help me alot for my exams and tests.. :)

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JoEditor's picture
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JoEditor 4 October, 2015 - 18:01

Hi anime_lover,
In that example the explanation tells you it's the intonation (how you put the stress on the words) that makes the difference to the meaning. If you put the stress on the modal verb, like may, might or could it sounds less probable. 
Here's another example: 
I think I might pass the exam. (sounding quite positive) 
I think I might pass the exam. (less probable/less ikely if you put stress on 'might' - it sounds like you're not so sure.)
I hope this helps.
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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Kakashi_Hatake's picture
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Kakashi_Hatake 3 October, 2014 - 21:49

I think so..
But it is difficult to visit UK, you know..
If my dream happened, I'd like to study in the great universities , make friends & visit the countryside..

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