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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > MIGHT    


United Kingdom

Hello everyone
On my sixteen s birthday, I realised that if I started hard work, I might get better grades. And in fact I did.  This sentence figures out in an original reading passage in the textbook I am using. It is a bit confusing as students indulged into a discussion of whether MIGHT + BASE VERB can express probability in the past.
I am quite sure we rather use MIGHT+ HAVE+ PP to talk about past probability, as in:
- he was absent for school. HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN sick.
My question is: Can MIGHT + BASE VERB express PAST possibility? 
Thanks a lot .

11 Mar 2014      

United States

If the narrative is already in the past, then MIGHT + BASE VERB could be used to indicate an ongoing situation, but not just a past possibility.
I didn t tell her about it because she might become angry.
This isn t very solid grammatically, but people woud say it, indicating that I didn t tell her (in the past) and the anger might have started then and continue.
So the simple answer is "no", but with this consideration. Notice that your example is this situation - better grades starting at that time and continuing.
Also, it should be "sixteenth birthday".

11 Mar 2014     


Just to add my two cents:

Wouldn t this just be a case of indirect speech --reporting someone s thoughts and changing the tense from present to past form.

Hhmm"If I start hard work, I may get good grades.  " 

So in fact it is reporting real possibilities for the present-future.


11 Mar 2014     

United Kingdom

Hi again
Yes Bruce it is sixteenTH in the text. I was much taken by that MIGHT problem and I didn"t pay attention there. Thanks anyway for your participation, but look the narrative went on in the text as to the writer to say: AND I DID. which means the fact of getting better grades happened and is no more going on. 
Thanks Sharon for the help. I also think it s a question of reported speech as it is introduced by I REALISED ; yet, to be frank I  am still bewildered.

12 Mar 2014     


This is what he thought at the age of sixteen;If I start hard work,I may get better grades.At the moment he isn t 16.He is narrating this event so it should be in the past form.

12 Mar 2014