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Modal perfect


Some examples of how to use the modal perfect for speculating and criticising.

Some examples of how to use the modal perfect for speculating and criticising.

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  • 1. Modal Perfect
  • 2. Functions
    • Criticising a past action or decision
    • Speculating on a past event
  • 3. Form
    • Modal verb + have + past participle
  • 4. Example - criticising
    • Khairul signed the purchase order without approval from the finance department.
    • “ Finance should have approved it first.”
  • 5. Example - speculating
    • The original time for the meeting was 1pm. It was changed at the last minute to 12.30. Siti came late.
    • “ She must not have known about the change.”
  • 6. Criticising
    • should / shouldn’t – advice too late
    • could / couldn’t – past possibility / opportunity / risk
    • might / might not – past potential
    • needn’t – not necessary or not required in the past
  • 7. Criticising Why did you do it on your own? You could have asked me for help. You were late to work. You shouldn’t have gone out last night. I can’t believe you drove that fast! You might have gotten caught. should / shouldn’t could / couldn’t might / might not needn’t You needn’t have come to the meeting. It was just for the sales team.
  • 8. Speculating
    • must / mustn’t – very sure of an event
    • can’t – past event, impossible
    • might / might not – possible event (likely)
    • may / may not – possible event (50% or less)
    • could / couldn’t – possible event (50/50)
  • 9. Speculating He looks so tired. He mustn’t have had much sleep last night. I’ve not seen them together for a long time. They might have separated. I saw him in KLCC, so he can’t have been at the meeting. Ng finished the exam in just 20 minutes. He couldn’t have answered all the questions.
  • 10. Hope you found it useful