Me: Hey damn why isnt he picking the phone up
Friend: He might be having the lunch / He would be having the lunch

Me: Looks like it's going to rain today I should take my umbrella with me
Friend: That might be better / That would be better

Me: Of our friends who do you think might have attended Chainsmokers concert last week?
Or: Who you think would have attended Chainsmokers concert last week

The words would and might being a non native speaker sounds alike to me...

To me, I guess they both can be used for guessing. No?

  • 3
    Note that you have lunch (no article) in English. With He might be having lunch, the speaker is just making one possible suggestion as to why X isn't picking up the phone. With He would be having lunch, the implication is the speaker knows / strongly believes he's having lunch (and that's what would be obvious to everyone else if they were to investigate the situation more thoroughly). Aug 3, 2017 at 17:51
  • 3
    What @FumbleFingers said applies to your second example, too. If I think there is a small chance of rain, I'd say, "That might be better." But if I think it's likely to rain, I'd say, "That would be better."
    – J.R.
    Aug 3, 2017 at 18:52
  • Also, might is the past tense of may; "I may go tomorrow". "She said she might go tomorrow". And would is the past tense of will: "I will go tomorrow". "She said she would go tomorrow". This is in addition to the previous comments. Your third sentence is wrong. It should be: Of our friends, who do you think might or would have attended x?
    – Lambie
    Aug 3, 2017 at 19:10
  • Okay i corrected that now help me understand the third one
    – user55625
    Aug 4, 2017 at 2:54
  • Related (but not duplicate) questions: ell.stackexchange.com/q/16865, ell.stackexchange.com/q/44856, ell.stackexchange.com/q/126882 They don't answer your question, but I think they might be interesting to people who are interested in your question, and posting them in the comments will add them to the list of "Related" questions in the side-bar on the full site.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 4, 2017 at 12:04

2 Answers 2


"He might be having lunch." : It is possible that he is having lunch. We don't say whether it is likely of unlikely.

"He would be having lunch." : I have no direct evidence that he is having lunch but, based on what I do know, I conclude that he is having lunch.

"Would" is a conditional. It is more completely used with a statement of the condition (e.g. "If it is noon he would be having lunch.") but it is very common to omit the condition and it is assumed that the condition is something like "Given everything I know ...". It makes the sentence weaker by leaving open the possibility of factors unknown to the speaker.


Absent further qualification

Doing that would be better.

means that the speaker believes things will definitely be better if you take that action, and

Doing that might be better.

means that the speaker believes there is a chance, maybe even a decent probability, things will be better if you take that action.

In certain contexts, the speaker may have a firm opinion about the definite result of doing something, but will use the weaker form, might, out of a desire not to make too strong an assertion, out of politeness, for example, leaving you to decide for yourself whether to bring an umbrella.

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