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




Dear Professional Team,
Firstly, let me express my interest in this site. 
Secondly, please help explain the difference between: might have and may have for me in this sentence:
However hard Mealy tried to phone Jack, there was no answer. It was possible that Jack was out.
A. Jack must have gone out      B. Jack might have gone out          
C. Jack should have gone out    D. Jack may have gone out.
Thanks and best regards, 

Hello Uyen Bui,

In my opinion there is no difference in this context.  In fact, in most contexts 'may have' and 'might have' are interchangeable - both are possible.  The exception to this is when we have a situation in which we know the outcome, and we want to speculate about an alternative reality.  For example:

Mealy tried to phone Jack, but there was no answer.

Jack might have gone out. (correct)

Jay may have gone out. (correct)

Now imagine that we know the situation: we know that Jack was out when we called, and want to think about alternatives.

Jack was out when we called.

A call ten minutes earlier might have caught him. (correct)

A call ten minutes earlier may have caught him. (incorrect)


I hope that helps to answer your question.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

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