All English SMA N 1 SLAWI

Modal Perfect

Modals with Perfect

Source: English for The SLTA-Structure Reference Book II & III, Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan.

Other medals such as can, may, must, shall, could, might, should, ought to and would, can be used with the perfect tense.

Frame 1: Affirmative Statements

SUBJECT

PREDICATE

MODAL

HAVE+VERB 3RD FORM

OBJECT, ETC.

TIME

1

They

can

have left

already.

2

I

could

have done

my home-work on the train.

3

I

could

have lifted

the box

just now.

4

He

may

have left

the umbrella on the train

last week.

5

They

may

have finished

the work

by next week.

6

He

might

have gone

by train

early this morning.

7

They

might

have waited

for a few minutes

before they went home.

8

It

must

have rained

last night.

9

We

shall

have finished

the house

before the rainy season starts.

10

I

should (ought to

have finished have finished)

the book

before you need it next week.

11

You

should (ought to

have given have given)

him the money

last week.

12

I

would

have returned

your bicycle

yesterday.

13

You

would

have stopped and helped

the man.

Usage

1. The verb phrase in this construction consists of Modal + have + the third form of the main verb.

2. Basically the modals retain the meanings that they have when they are used with the simple tenses. However, some differences do occur when they are used with the perfect tense. Following are the meanings of the modals when they are used with the perfect tense.

CAN

Can indicates a possibility (sentence 1).

Sentence 1 means: It is possible that they have left when you get there.

COULD

Could indicates

a) a past possibility which was not acted upon (sentence 2).

This sentence means: It was possible for you to do it then, but you did not.

b) a past ability (sentence 3).

This sentence means: I was able to lift the box, but I did not do it because, say, I preferred to sit and watch.

MAY

May indicates

a) a past possibility (sentence 4).

This sentence means: It was possible that he left the umbrella on the train. (We do not know yet).

b) a future doubtful possibility (sentence 5).

This sentence means: It is possible that they will finish the work by next week but they also have a lot of other things to do, so you’d better not be too hopeful

MIGHT

Might indicates

a) a past possibility (the same as may; sentence 6). This sentence means: It was possible that they left by train.

b) a past possibility which was not acted on (sen­tence 7).

This sentence means: It was possible for them to wait but instead they left immediately and did not see us.

MUST

Must indicates a deduction about the past (sentence 8).

(The road is wet.) It must have rained last night.

SHALL

Shall is used almost exclusively with I or we. It indicates prediction, with emphasis (sentence 9). This sentence means: We are determined to finish the house before the rainy season starts.

SHOULD and OUGHT TO

These two are usually interchangeable. They express

a) expectation (sentence 10).

This sentence means: I expect to finish the book before you need it.

b) unfulfilled obligation in past time (sentence 11).

This sentence means: You had the obligation to give the money but ^ou did not.

WOULD

Would indicates

a) an expectation that did not take place (sen­tence 12).

This sentence means: I expected to return your bicycle yesterday, but I could not, because, say, it rained.,

This use of would is similar to that in conditional sentences.

Compare the sentence with the following:

I would have returned your bicycle yesterday if it hadn’t rained.

b) an alternative to something that took place (sen­tence 13). This sentence means: You did not stop and help the man although you had this choice.

Frame 2: Negative Statements

SUB­JECT

PREDICATE

MODAL

NOT

HAVE+VERB 3RD FORM

OBJECT, ETC.

TIME

1

We

can

not

have given back

your money

before you leave.

2

They

can

not

have left

already

when you get there.

3

I

could

not

have done

my home­work on the

yesterday.

4

I

could

not

have lifted

the box

just now.

5

He

may

not

have left

the umbrella on the train

last week.

6

They

may

not

have finished

the work

by next week.

7

He

might.

not

have gone

by train

this morning.

8

They

might

not

have waited

for a few minutes

before they went home.

9

We

shall

not

have finished

the house

before the rainy spason starts.

10

You

should (ought

not not

have given

to have given)

him the money

last week.

11

I

would

not

have returned

your bicycle

yesterday.

Usage

1. The negative statement is formed by putting not after the modal.

2. Note that not all affirmative statements with modal + perfect can be turned into negative. In changing the affirmative into the negative we should also remember that sometimes the meaning of the modal changes.

Here are some of the changes.

COULD NOT

could not expresses that one situation is known to be impossible as the result of another situation (sentence 3 and 4).

Sentence 3 means: It was not possible for me to do my homework on the train because, say, it was very crowded.

Sentence 4 means: It was impossible for me to lift the box because, say, it was too heavy.



MAY NOT and MIGHT NOT

may not and might not express lack of possibility or probability, i.e. they express doubt and uncertainty (sentences 5, 6, 7, 8).

SHOULD NOT

should not expresses disapproval of something that was done in the past (sentence 10). This sentence means: You gave him the money

2 Responses

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