might as well: meaning and explanation

If you say that you might as well do something (or may as well do something), it means that you will do something because there is no better alternative, and doing it will not make any difference to your situation.

For example, imagine you are at a party but don’t know anyone. You aren’t enjoying yourself and don’t feel very comfortable, so you think to yourself: I might as well go home. This means that you don’t especially want to go home, but it is probably a better option than staying at this party.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Micro-listening #1

Accent: North America

.
come with haven't else .

About the sentence

…I haven’t got anything alse to do…

If you have got something to do, then there is something you should do or want to do. This can be a useful way to say you are busy (and can be used when giving an excuse not to take part in something). e.g. I’d love to come but I can’t I’m afraid – I’ve got too much to do.

Micro-listening #2

Accent: England (RP)

, supper
You're now, might well supper

About the sentence

…I suppose…

I suppose can be used to indicate uncertainty about something. e.g. I suppose you use these four screws to attach the table legs to the table…

In certain contexts (such as in the dictation), I suppose can also communicate a lack of enthusiasm – you are offering or agreeing to something, but you don’t really want to. e.g. I suppose you want me to lend you the money for this. Am I right?

Micro-listening #3

Accent: England (RP)

aren't any revision then just not

About the sentence

…If you aren’t going to do any revision

Going to + verb is used to describe future plans or intentions.

Notice the contracted pronunciation of going to. This is extremely common and natural.

Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Once I had to catch a flight at 5am. My plan was to pack the night before, go to bed early and then wake up at about 2am to leave for the airport. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very organised and I didn’t finish packing until 1am. I decided that it was too late to go to bed, and that I would probably feel worse if I only slept for an hour. So I decided that I might as well just stay awake – I didn’t really want to stay awake, but there was no better alternative. Try and think of your own example like this – describe a situation which ended with you doing something because there was no better alternative.