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Modals in the Past

Modals in the Past

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Published by: Macavei George-Lucian on Jul 04, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Modals in the Past
can't have
certaintye.g. I can't have lost my keys! (I'm sure Ididn't)
e.g. When I was a teenager, I could go out aslate as I wanted.
general ability
e.g. Tom could walk by the age of 8 months.
could have
possibility, but did not happen
e.g. I could have passed my driving test ifI'd really tried.
e.g. I guess it could have been Sandra on thephone.
e.g. When I was a teenager, I couldn't stayout as late as I wanted.
general ability
e.g. I couldn't walk until I was 2.ability in a particular situation
e.g. I tried hard but I couldn't persuade himto go to the party with us.
couldn't have
e.g. I couldn't possibly have passed mydriving test, even if I'd tried harder.
e.g. It couldn't have been Sandra on thephone, could it?with comparative adjectives
e.g. I couldn't have asked for betterweather on my wedding day.
unwillingnesse.g. I couldn't have left the dog in the carfor long (so I didn't).
didn’t need to
unnecessary action not donee.g. As I was alone this weekend, I didn'tneed to do any cooking (so I didn't).
had to
obligation (past form of
)e.g. I couldn't go out last night because Ihad to do my homework.
may have
uncertaintye.g. I guess I may have been a bit hard onher when she came home an hour late.
may not have
uncertaintye.g. He may not have found out yet that hehas passed the test.
might have
possibility (didn't happen)
e.g. You might have been killed!
e.g. I guess I might have been a bit hard onher when she came home an hour late.
annoyance at someone's failure to dosomething
e.g. You might have told me that you hadinvited all your colleagues round for dinner!
might have known + would (idiom to ironicallyexpress that somebody's action was typical)
e.g. I might have known that he would finishwith me as soon as he found out I wasn'twealthy!

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