İ learned that might is also used as past form of may.What is the difference between may have done/might (past tense of may).İs it correct to use "may have done" as past form of "may do".

2 Answers 2


I think you have been misinformed, might is not the past form of may. Where did you see this stated? The two words have different meanings, based on the likelihood of the action.

"I may go to London" = "The chances are high that I will go to London". [but it's still possible I won't]

"I might go to London" = "The chances are low that I will go to London".

The past form of these would be

"I may have gone to London" and "I might have gone to London".

Thus may [action] is more likely to happen than might [action].

You are right, "may have done" is the past form of "may do". Similarly "might have done" is the past form of "might do"

  • İ learned that might is used for the past form of may,from dictionarys,websites and reported speechs.
    – Help Me911
    Sep 16, 2019 at 20:51
  • @HelpMe911 OK, can you add some links to your question to show this? Sep 16, 2019 at 20:53
  • İ was afraid because someone might recognize me.İ don't think we can use "may have recognized" or "might have recognized "here.
    – Help Me911
    Sep 16, 2019 at 21:09
  • @HelpMe911 No, "may have recognized" and "might have recognised" are perfectly good English in that sentence. I assure you as a native BrE speaker that might is not the past form of may. English adverbs do not change with the tense of the verb. Sep 16, 2019 at 22:11

I (an American) would normally say “might have done” for a counterfactual or hypothetical:

“I might have done what you wanted, if you had told me what that was.”

“I might have done something very different, if I had known then what I know now.”

In these cases, I’d call “might have” and “if _ had” more of a past subjunctive than a past perfect. It’s analogous to “if I were” instead of “if I was” for counterfactual or hypothetical statements in formal English.

I would normally use may have instead of might have for past-tense statements of fact that are unknown or uncertain:

“I don’t know why the butler would have done it, but he may have.”

“The butler may have done it, but why would he have?”

This is just a past tense of may do, analogous to would he have done being the past-tense form of would do. (We drop “done it” in the second clause of both examples. The listener will understand that the clauses are parallel and have the same main verb.)

The claim that might is the past-tense form of may does not sound correct to me, at least in American English. But also, the distinction between may and might is not strictly observed today, and you will often hear them used interchangeably.

If you phrased a factual event as a hypothetical, it would communicate the opposite: that you’re implying something did happen.

“I can’t say who told him, but I might have spoken to him about it.”

This comes across as ironic understatement. I would understand this to mean that the speaker is not really uncertain about whether they remember speaking to the other person and what they said. This is an unofficial, off-the-record confirmation. I’m being told a secret, with just enough ambiguity that I can say I don’t know for sure.

In that sentence, may would be less clear:

“All these years later, I can’t say for sure, but I may have spoken to him about it.”

This reads to me as if the speaker genuinely doesn’t trust their own memory.

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