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

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Modal verbs with have 2

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Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 12/07/2019 - 09:12

In reply to by alist123

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Hello alist123

We sometimes use the relative pronoun 'when' with words that express time (for example, 'day', 'week', 'hour', 'time', etc.), but often we do not. I would recommend 'time we spent' instead of 'time when we spent'.

You can read a little more about this in the last section on our Relative pronouns and relative clauses page.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Aniyanmon

Submitted by Aniyanmon on Thu, 11/07/2019 - 18:40

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Dear Kirk sir, I asked you two questions regarding "should have", whether it is to be used in future. You explained "should have" is also used to talk about probability in future. But sir, kindly see the following questions and answers, here "would have" is used to show probability in future. As far as I know, "would have" is used in past contexts. Kindly enlighten me on it. Que:Will she have gone? Ans: No, she wouldn't have. Que: Will your brother have returned from Canada? Ans: No, he wouldn't have. Thank you.

Hello Aniyanmon

These replies don't sound correct to me. Perhaps there is some context in which it would make sense to reply with 'would have' here, but I can't think of one off the top of my head.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Aniyanmon

Submitted by Aniyanmon on Thu, 11/07/2019 - 13:09

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Dear Sir, Kindly tell me whether the following uses of "should have" (in future is correct.) I should have completed the course by 2021. My sister should have arrived by next week. Thank you.
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Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 11/07/2019 - 16:19

In reply to by Aniyanmon

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Hello Aniyanmon

Yes, both of those sentences are grammatically correct.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Aniyanmon

Submitted by Aniyanmon on Tue, 02/07/2019 - 13:15

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Dear Sir, I have seen the following question and answer in a spoken English book. Kindly tell me whether the answer of the question is correct. As far as I know "should have" is used as an advice. For example "You should have gone there". It is used in past situations. But in the following answer "should have" is used in a future situation. How is it possible sir?. So can I say now "today evening I should have left this place" (suppose now the time is 10 'o clock in the morning). Que:Will you have passed tenth class examination by the next year? Ans:Yes, I should have passed it by that time. Thank you.
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 02/07/2019 - 18:15

In reply to by Aniyanmon

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Hello Aniyanmon

As is explained just before the first exercise above, a modal verb plus 'have' can be used to refer back from a time in the future. In the question and answer you cite from the book, that future time is 'by next year' (or 'by that time'). So it is correct here.

Note that in this case, 'should' is not giving advice -- it is used to talk about probability (see the Certainty section on that page for more examples).

Thanks for asking this question on a more appropriate page.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Serigne Bamba Gueye on Thu, 25/04/2019 - 01:16

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That's very interesting to teach people how to increase their English level and specially the modal verbs because it makes problem to students and difficult to master as well,fortunately these courses have clarified us what blocked us.Thank you for your help.

Submitted by Samavor on Wed, 13/02/2019 - 06:15

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Hello. I have a doubt. Can I use SHOULD HAVE with the third conditional? If I had been a teacher, I should have taught children many important things. Is this sentence correct? I am really looking forward to knowing about it.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 13/02/2019 - 07:18

In reply to by Samavor

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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 ...it would have been a good idea to... or ...it would have been sensible to...

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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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

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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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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

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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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team