Modals with 'have'

Learn about using have with modal verbs to refer back in time, and do the exercises to practise using it.

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



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Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 13/02/2019 - 07:18

In reply to by Samavor


Hello Samavor,

No, you cannot use should have with that meaning. As a concept, should describes something desirable or advisable, not something contingent on a counter-factual past. You could use a phrase like would have been a good idea to... or would have been sensible to...



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by hadi.khorand on Wed, 26/12/2018 - 09:11

hello Can we use all of modals verb with have and the past participle? for example "S+can+have+P.P." and does it refer to past time?
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 26/12/2018 - 09:49

In reply to by hadi.khorand


Hi hadi.khorand,

'can have' + past participle is not used in affirmative verb phrases (e.g. 'She can have gone home') -- instead we use 'could have' + past participle (e.g. 'She could have gone home'). The latter refers to a past possibility.

'can have' + past participle can be used in negative verb phrases (e.g. 'She can't have gone home -- her car keys are still here.'), where it expresses certainty about the past, and it can also be used in interrogative verb phrases (though it is a bit unusual): 'Where can she have gone?'

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Goktug123 on Sat, 22/12/2018 - 11:55

I would like to ask you about grammer structure of "would have + Verb3". I've read the sentence of "That would have been John's car" Is it possible that that sentence has the same meaning of "I think,that was John's car." I am asking this question because I know we can use "would have+V3" structure as in the sentence below. "You used a few words that are specific to the field, but you always explained what they meant,so the audience WOULDN'T HAVE HAD any difficulty understanding." I think last sentence tells us a probability.That person just believes and expresses his/her thoughts about past situation. Finally, I think that "would have" structure not only used for the situations were intented to be but didn't but also used for expressing the thoughts and beliefs about past events. Is that true? Thank you for your kind help!

Hi Goktug123,

Your first interpretation of the first sentence is correct -- the speaker supposes that the car was John's. The second sentence is similar to the first -- the speaker makes a supposition about a past event.

As you suggest, 'would have' + v3 is also commonly used in third conditional structures, which can be used, for example, to speak about regrets. For example, 'If I hadn't taken that job, I would have finished my studies.'

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team