A Fine Place for Trout


1) A Fine Place for Trout
2) Vocabulary Box
3) Grammar Spot: May



A Fine Place for Trout

A man was busy fishing along a quiet stream when a stranger came by and enquired,

“Catch anything yet?”

“No,” was the answer.

“That’s strange. I heard this was a fine place for trout.”

“It may be…,” the fisherman said skeptically.

“On second thoughts,” he added, “it must be! They refuse to leave it.”



Let’s explain some of the words in today’s joke!

– Trout is a fish that is a popular food. The plural is trout or trouts.

– A stream is a small river.

– To enquire or to inquire means to ask for information.

– The meaning of skeptically is doubtfully. The fisherman is not sure.




So far we have talked about “can”, “could”, “must”, “have to”. Are we done with modals? Not yet. Today’s guest star is the modal verb “may”. My presentation is structured in two parts. First, we are going to have a look at the form of this verb and then we are going to learn how to use “may” in different contexts. This being said, let’s proceed.

Affirmative: Subject + may + verb (short infinitive).
Interrogative: May + Subject + verb (short infinitive)?
Negative: Subject + may + not (mayn’t) + verb (short infinitive).

She may help us.
I may do it.
May I take your book?
May I see your passport, please?
They may not know it.
It may not work.

Remark: The form “mayn’t” is rarely used.

When do we use “may”?

– to talk about present or future possibilities

He may be in his office.
She may be upset.
I may vote for him.
They may go to France.
I may not be able to meet you at the railway station.
She may not come to the party.

– to ask for/ give permission. “May” is more formal than “can”.

May I have another piece of cake?
May I make a phone call?
May I see that?
You may leave at 7:30 if you like.
You may have a sit.
You may join us if you like.

– to express past possibilities. The pattern is: may + have + past participle

She may have been asleep. (Perhaps she was asleep.)
They may have gone to lunch. (Perhaps they went to lunch.)
You may have left your umbrella in the restaurant.
He may have gone shopping.

We end today’s lesson with some set phrases.

– may well

He may well not want to pay by credit card. = It is very likely that he won’t agree to pay by credit card.

– May the best man/person win. = You want the best competitor to win/succeed.

– To whom it may concern. = You write it at the start of a formal letter when you don’t know exactly who it should be addressed to.

– may I ask/ may I suggest

What, may I ask, was the purpose of your actions?
May I suggest we take a short break?


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That was all for today. I hope you have enjoyed yourself and learnt
new useful things. Till next time, take care.

Your tutor,

Copyright© 2007 English Through Jokes. All Rights Reserved.


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