Might vs. Will

'Might' and 'will' are modal verbs that may confuse learners since they both talk about possibilities. In this lesson, we will learn their uses and differences.

"Might" vs. "Will" in the English grammar

What Is Their Main Difference?

The main difference between modal verbs 'might' and 'will' is that 'might' is in the past tense but talks about the present, however, 'will*' talks about the future.

'Might' is a modal verb used to talk about possibilities, giving suggestions and advice, etc. 'Might' is the past tense of 'may' but it is used in the present or even the future tense. Have a look:

I might take a look at your resume.

I might stop talking to him if he keeps this attitude.

'Will' is mainly used to talk about the future. It is also used to talk about willingness, possibilities, etc. Take a look at the following examples:

I will buy her a housewarming gift.

The meeting will be held tomorrow at seven.

Similarities

Talking about Possibilities

We use 'will' and 'might' to talk about possibilities.
When we use 'might' we are not sure if these events or actions will happen or not and we are just making a guess.
When we use 'will,' we refer mostly to the likelihood of something and we are more certain about the outcome compared to when we use 'might.' For example:

John might be at the door.

That will be John at the door.

Negation and Question

We can use modal verbs such as 'might' and 'will' to create negative sentences and questions.
to create negative sentences, we simply add 'not' to the modal verbs as illustrated below:

  • MightMight not
  • WillWill notWon't

Take a look at the following examples to see the process of negation:

I might stop searching. → I might not stop searching.

It will be too late to turn back. → I will not be too late to turn back.

To make questions we modal verbs, we invert the modal and the subject:

She might get disappointed. → Might she get disappointed?

It will tomorrow. → Will it rain tomorrow?

With Other Modal Verbs

Modal verbs can be used with other verbs and they are never the only verb of the clause, however, we cannot use more than one modal verb in one clause. Take a look at these incorrect examples:

I might should go back home.

I will can swim, if I take lessons.

Differences

Talking about Permission

We use 'might' in the interrogative form to politely ask for permission. Have a look:

Might I ask why you applied for this job?

Might I answer this phone call?

Talking about the Future

We use 'will' to talk about future actions and events that are going to happen in the future. We are most certain that they will occur or we already planned them. For instance:

I will meet my parents this Holiday.

The meeting will be held on the third floor.

With Conditionals

We use 'might' and 'will' as conditional verbs. In the table below, you can see them with all types of conditionals:

Conditional Type 1

'Might' and 'will' are used in conditional type 1 to show a condition or situation and its results. These situations are real with a high chance of occurrence. For instance:

If you eat enough nutrients, you might get taller.

If you eat enough nutrients, you will get taller.

Conditional Type 2

We use 'might' in conditional type 2 to show hypothetical situations in the present or future. These situations are imaginary with a low chance of occurrence. 'Will' cannot be used in this type since 'will' cannot express hypothetical situations. Take a look at the following examples:

If I study hard enough, I might become a doctor.

If I win this lottery, I might leave the country.

Conditional Type 3

We use 'might' in the third type of conditional to talk about an imaginary past. This past could have happened but it never did. We mainly use this type to talk about what-ifs. 'Will' cannot be used as it refers to the future while this type talks about the past. For example:

I might have been a doctor, if I had studied hard enough.

If I won that lottery, I might have been a doctor.

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