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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




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?

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

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

Hello sir
"He could have reached the train" means: Perhaps he have reached the train.
So when we say: "He couldn't have reached the train" , does it mean: "Perhaps he haven't reached the train" ???? or it has other meanings??

Thank you

Hello Yasser Azizi,

Strictly, 'He could have reached the train' means that it was possible for him to reach the train, not that it might have happened. We would use this sentence even if we know that he did not reach the train. For example, we could say 'He could have reached the train, but he didn't even want to run'.

In the same way 'He couldn't have reached the train' is a logical deduction about something in the past. It means the same as It was not possible for him to reach the train.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

good day :)
is this statement correct please : " I must stayed awake for hours that day."
is it possible to use past tense on verbs while using models in the same sentence?
thank you

Hello loucia,

No, that is not a correct form. After modal verbs we use the base form ('must stay') or, with a perfect modal, a past participle ('must have stayed').


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Please tell me whether have to and able to are modal verbs
Many thanks

Hello sumanasc,

Although there are some very reputable learner's resources that call 'have to' a kind of modal verb (e.g. Oxford), most grammars do not include it in the list of modal verbs (see, for example, the Wikipedia entry on English modal verbs). The same is true for 'be able to'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team