PAST MODALS: could have | may have | might have | must have | should have | would have - GRAMMAR


hi guys i'm Arnel from A rnel's Everyday English

and today we're looking at could have may have might have must have

should have and would have. I know all of this looks a bit

overwhelming, but today we're going to do it in

bite-sized pieces. First we're going to look at could have, may

have and might have together. We're going to see the

connection with must have then we have should have

and finally would have. What we also need to do

is look at something very important: Pronunciation! Native speakers get really

lazy when they use these. So at the end of the lesson, I'm going to

take a couple of minutes to show you how to be really lazy too.

First things first: Could, may, might, must, should and would, are what we

call modal verbs. Modal verbs have so many

different uses and it's really important to remember

that throughout today's lesson, because, today we are specifically

looking at past modals. These modals

plus have plus the past participle. What's the past participle? Let's do a

little review. Walk, walked, walked, that verb number

three is the past participle. Swim, swam, swum. Swum is my past

participle. So in today's lesson if I say past

participle or verb three, you know i mean this form there.

Could have, may have, might have. Past possibility. I am guessing.

I don't have all the information. We see my timeline there's a past and

the present. Where's Julie? She

could have gone home, I mean at six o'clock.

She might have gone home. She may have gone home. This is a past

possibility. I am guessing, I don't have all the

information. Maybe Julie went to the bathroom. Maybe

she went out to grab some dinner and she'll be back,

I'm not sure. You can see here even though my subject is she, I still

use have. She could have gone home, we would

never say: she could has gone home.

Where's my shopping bag? I could have left it

in the cafe. I might have left it in the cafe.

I may have left it in the cafe. This is a past possibility.

I am guessing, I don't have all the information.

Maybe i left my bag on the bus. Maybe my husband took it home with him.

I'm not really sure. So what's the difference between could, may

and might? When we are speaking about past possibility you can use these

interchangeably. Some people say may is a bit more formal.

Some people say may is more... the possibility is a bit higher. But

really don't worry about that difference, use these three freely.

Great. So you know she could, might, may have gone home. You know this

is a past possibility, and you can use these in the same way.

If we want to speak about something where we

had the option but we chose not to do something,

you can use could.

I could have gone to a hair salon, but i decided to cut my hair myself,

to save some money!

We could have stayed longer but i was getting a bit chilly, so we decided to go

home. There was a past option but we decided

to do something different. Use could have or might have

to say something didn't happen. Normally we use this structure

to show relief, we are relieved something didn't happen.

I am so glad my son was wearing his helmet,

he could have been really hurt. He might have been really hurt.

In this case we would not use may have.

Okay, let's take a look at this line here. Now let's have this question: Hey! Do you

know Hannah locked up last night? When i say

locked up it means lock up all the windows and doors before

closing a business for the night. So in my example, this is one colleague

speaking to another. I have actually happened 100% fact.

Yes, Hannah locked up last night. I was with her,

and i saw her do it. I have didn't happen 100% fact. No,

Hannah didn't lock up. We both left the office at four,

and there were other people still working. Here in the middle

I have: maybe happened. Hannah may, might, could have locked up

last night. I'm not sure, I left the office at four

but there were still a few people working - including Hannah.

Hannah must have locked up last night. I left the office at four and she was

the last person there. Okay, now i have must have plus past

participle. You can see on my line, must have is very

close to 100% fact. This is because I am almost certain

this happened. Hannah was the last person in the office

but i didn't see her do anything. My kids must have eaten the last slice

of cake. My husband doesn't really like cake, so

I'm pretty sure it was the kids. Carrie isn't here, she must have missed

her flight. I can't think of any other reason she

isn't here.

Philip didn't answer my call, he must have been sleeping.

It was 11 pm so there is a very high probability

he was sleeping. In the negative some things are different.

May have, may not have. Might have, might not have - okay!

Must have, mustn't have - okay! Could have, okay couldn't have,

impossible! You can see the position changes from:


Yes, can't have is another option. Remember, can't have plus past participle

is okay, but we do not say can have plus past

participle. Hannah could have locked up, maybe.

Hannah couldn't have locked up, she left work at three.

I really don't think this is possible.

Okay! You have done an amazing job with could,

may, might, and must have. One thing you can do to make this easier to remember

is to write example sentences, personal example sentences, this will make things

easier to remember. Should have plus past participle.

Expectation. Regret. This is better. Pete

should have landed by now. He should have landed

30 minutes ago. He should have called me. These are things I was expecting to

happen, now i'm waiting. I'm not really sure if he's landed or


Regret. I should have studied English sooner!

A lot of students say this. I shouldn't have spoken to my mom like

that, I was angry. This is better.

I feel gross. Well, you shouldn't have eaten eight donuts.

What's better? Not eating eight donuts is better than what you did! You're an

hour late, you should have called me. Calling me

is better than what you did - what you didn't do, you didn't call me!

They shouldn't have increased their prices, I think they lost a lot of

customers. Here, what's better? Not increasing prices.

In this structure here, this is better, it's kind of like you're giving past

advice. Or possibly even criticism. You should

have done something,

differently. Would have plus past participle. Hypothetical

past. Hypothetical means not real,


Okay, the unicorn is a bit much but you know what I mean.

Not realistic. I would have gone to the gym this morning,

but my back was hurting a little bit. Why is this hypothetical?

Because in reality, I didn't go to the gym.

I decided not to give my teacher the card i made.

Why not? She would have loved it! This is hypothetical,

because in reality the child didn't give the card to his or her teacher.

If he had given his teacher the card she would have loved it.

Some of you know this as a third conditional. Don't worry, today is not a lesson about third conditional,

and you don't need to know the third conditional to use:

would have plus past participle correctly.

Let's do a few more examples together. I ordered a shirt online

but it had a hole in it, so i threw it away.

You threw it away? I would have returned it.

I am not you,. this situation didn't really happen to me

It's so good you didn't tell Brian you used his car,

he would have gone crazy. You didn't tell Brian,

in reality, nothing happened. Fantastic, let's keep going, we're on the

home stretch now. Could have, may have, might have,

must have, should have, would have. Okay, so we have these forms here

throughout the lesson I've been using the full form: could have

plus past participle, may have plus past participle.

But in spoken English, we normally contract everything.

Could've, may've, might've, must've, should've,

would've. I'll do that a bit faster: Could've, may've, might've, must've,

should've, would've. If you think that sound is a little bit difficult, try to

think about it like: of. Could of, may of,

might of, must of, should of, would of. Just so you know,

of is not correct, it's just the sound, we would never write

could of.

You know what, we are busy people, we don't even have time to say

of sometimes. Let's get a bit lazier! Coulda, maya, mighta, musta, shoulda, woulda.

Let's do that again a little bit faster: Coulda, maya, mighta, musta, shoulda, woulda.

Just add that a the end and you know it's the really lazy contracted form of

could have. She coulda gone home, she maya gone home, she mighta

gone home, she musta, gone home she shoulda

gone home, she woulda gone home.

In the negative: Couldn't've, mightn't've,

shouldn't've, wouldn't've. You can see i skipped may, we

would never say mayn't've that's very unnatural, so you

don't need to worry about that one. There you go, we've looked at all of

these modal verbs in the past with that have and verb

number three. So whenever you're watching a movie or

you're reading a book really listen out, or look out for, these

forms. The more you see it the more comfortable

you'll feel. Don't forget to subscribe to my channel,

I can't wait to see you in my next video. Leave me a couple of examples in the

comments below, personal examples, easier to remember. Have a

wonderful day and i'll see you soon.