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

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Modal verbs with have 2

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Comments

Hello misam,

Sentences 1, 2 and 4 are grammatical but the others are not. Both 'may have finished' and 'might have finished' mean the same thing in this context – there is no difference between them. The difference between 'will have finished' and 'may/might have finished' is that 'may/might' indicate more uncertainty than 'will'. Have you seen our can, could and could have page? There you can see more about 'could have'; the form 'can have' is not used.

I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, please ask us. The more specific your question is, the more likely we are to be able to help you.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,

I really liked your expression above "The more specific your question is, the more likely we are to be able to help you.", and I was wondering, would be there any difference if I said "we are able to help you" instead?

Thanks in advance, greetings.

Hi Hopefinder,

Yes, that would mean essentially the same thing, though really I would say 'the more likely we will be able to help you' or 'the more likely it is that we are able to help you' or my original phrasing.

Glad you like it!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, would this third conditional phrase be correct? 'If the dogs hadn't barked, we couldn't have heard the burglars.' Or is it necessary to use 'wouldn't have' instead of 'couldn't have'. When is it possible to use could have in the third conditional? Thanks.

Hi rayres,

That sentence is perfectly fine.  A range of modal verbs can be used in the result clause of conditional sentences, each with their usual meanings:

'If the dogs had barked, we should have heard the burglars (but we didn't, which was strange so perhaps they didn't bark after all).

'If the dogs hadn't barked, we might not have heard the burglars (but it's possible that we would have heard them anyway).

In your sentnece, the modal 'would have' describes what we think was likely or certain to happen; the modal 'could have' describes possibility (or a lack of it).

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.  You can find more information on this construction here.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
 
'modal + have' means describing the actions in the past.Then I want to know does it describe that action didn't happen in the past?.As an example,

  1. You should have helped her.
  2. you must have told me.

In those sentences mean that those actions didn't happen in the past? And also 'will + have' is different from this.It's about future perfect.
 
Thank you.

Hello bimsara,

You are correct that the first example describes something that did not happen in the past (you didn't help her).  However, the second example describes something that we believe happened - the speaker is trying to work out, according to what he or she knows, sees or can deduce, what happened in the past.  For example, imagine we are in a building and we meet someone who is very wet.  We know that it is raining and we can speculate about why the person is wet, saying 'You must have been outside'.

We use 'will have' to describe events in the future which take place before a certain time, but we can also use it to make judgements about the past, in a similar way to the 'must have' example above:

'He is never late so he will have arrived by now.' 

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi ¡ I think, " to use modal + have " is to express probability, in the past, or present...
 

Hello everyone!
 
What's the difference with modal and without modal?  I mean 'They will have arrived by now' and 'They have arrived by now'  I have this question for only modal verb 'will and would'.
 
Thank you.

Hi bimsara,

will have arrived is a future perfect form and have arrived is a present perfect form. The present perfect is explained in detail on our present perfect page, and both are explained on our perfective aspect page. Once you've read through these pages, please let us know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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