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Modals with 'have'


Level: intermediate

We can use a modal verb with have and a past participle:

Subject Modal have Past participle  
They will have arrived by now.
You might have seen the film.
Jack and Jill would have been late.

We use a modal verb with have:

  • to refer back from the present:

It's nearly eight o'clock. They will have arrived by now.

  • to refer back from a point of time in the past:

We were very worried. We thought someone might have taken the car.

  • to refer back from a point of time in the future:

We won't eat until they arrive. They might not have had supper.

  • to refer to past time:

You should have helped her when she asked.
They might have got lost. Nobody knows where they are.

Modal verbs with have 1


Modal verbs with have 2




let us imagine an example.

John is a good football player. in a certain match he did not play well as a result his team was overthrown shabbily. then the supporters discussed themselves....

1. John should have played well.
2. John could have played well.
3. John would have played well.

in this case; do the above-mentioned 3 sentences correct? specially the last one?

Hello pipilica,

All of the sentence are possible, but they have different meanings and implied if-clauses.

1. This is fine as it stands. It functions as a criticism of John's performance, which did not reach expectations. It suggests the speaker does not understand why John did not play well.


2. This sentence describes an alternative outcome which was possible but not certain. It implies an if-clause:

John could have played well if the tactics had been better / if he hadn't been sick / if he had been more motivated etc.


3. This sentence is similar to the second, but is more certain of its conclusion. It does not (like #2) tell us that an alternative was possible, but that the alternative was certain if the condition were met



The LearnEnglish Team

As I didn't find 'comment' at will have and woud have page can you please help me get these statements here:
1. Look at the time. The match will have started.
Does it imply that we are late, but at the stadium now, and the match is just going to start? Or is that by the time we get there the match will already have started? What does it mean to 'look back from present' here?

2. It was/is half past five. Dad would/will have finished work by now.
Does this imply that Dad was/is supposed to have finished either had to finish his work by 5;30, and we look back from 'that moment' standing for 'now' in this case?
Yet, if it WAS 5:30 already, how could Dad finish it BY that time?
All the best,

Hello Oleg

In the case of 1, it could be any of the meanings you suggest -- it's not possible to know for sure without more context. In general, it means 'by now' or 'by the time I mean (determined by context)', the match must have started.

In the case of 2, 'was' with 'would have finished' don't make sense with 'by now' -- you'd need to change the latter to 'by then'. With 'is' and 'will have finished', it means that we think he must have finished now, or just finished, because we expected him to finish earlier, because he normally finishes just now, or something like that. Again, it's not completely clear without more context.

Hope this helps.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your detailed review, Kirk. Now it's all clear, and I even think it's a pity that most grammar books do not explain what perfect is starting from this point, which obviously would make student's comprehension much easier.
All the best,

Hello. Could you please help me?
Is it correct to make deductions in the following way:
- "In Egypt, the underground must have made travelling round Cairo easier."
or this way:
- "In Egypt, the underground must make travelling round Cairo easier."
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam

Both of those are correct and sound natural -- good work. The first sentence speaks about the past and the second one about the present.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

question in relative pronoun "when":
time when we spent with the right person
in this example "when" here is right or wrong
is the word "time" refer to a time or it's just a word and can't put when??
I hope you replay

Hello alist123

We sometimes use the relative pronoun 'when' with words that express time (for example, 'day', 'week', 'hour', 'time', etc.), but often we do not. I would recommend 'time we spent' instead of 'time when we spent'.

You can read a little more about this in the last section on our Relative pronouns and relative clauses page.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Kirk sir,

I asked you two questions regarding "should have", whether it is to be used in future. You explained "should have" is also used to talk about probability in future. But sir, kindly see the following questions and answers, here "would have" is used to show probability in future. As far as I know, "would have" is used in past contexts. Kindly enlighten me on it.

Que:Will she have gone?

Ans: No, she wouldn't have.

Que: Will your brother have returned from Canada?

Ans: No, he wouldn't have.

Thank you.