You are here

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




It seems rather strange that in order for me to access the below materialthis page I need to be logged in. If I don't, it doesn't show the content at all indicating it is a broken link. Please see to this. The rest of the materials are not like that. They can be accessed without login. Please see if this can be fixed as I do find it inconvenient.

Hello ysl_cherry,

I believe this was a temporary problem and should now be fixed. I have checked on my computer and am able to access the site without logging in.



The LearnEnglish Team

May have/might have +verb 3rd form is used for guesses/possibility in the past.

Suppose, "Sachin might/may have left the country" here point of time is in the past.

If I say, Sachin may/might have left the country by tomorrow evening. Here point of time is in the future.

So can we use this structure "may/might have +V3rd form for guesses/possibility in the future?
More example
Train may have left tomorrow.
He might have gone to Delhi tomorrow.

Hello Rsb,

It is possible to use perfect modal verbs with future reference when we are looking back from a point further in the future. The future perfect (will have + verb3) is an example of this:

By 2100, we will already have built undersea cities for millions of people.

May/might can replace will to make the prediction less certain:

By 2100, we may already have built undersea cities for millions of people.


We can also use the perfect modal (may/might have + verb3) to express a counter-factual with an if-clause (or implied if-clause).

For example, imagine we are talking on Wednesday. I plan to meet my friend on Thursday. However, there is an earthquake and all travel is cancelled. In that situation I might say this:

If there hadn't been an earthquake, I might have met my friend tomorrow,

(would, could and may are all also possible here)


As you can see, context is crucial.



The LearnEnglish Team

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

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

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