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Past Modals

Past Modals

Past Modals talk about the possibility of a condition in the past.

 

Affirmative Form:

must

might

could

may

+

have

+

past participle

 

Negative Form:

can’t

might not

couldn’t

may not

+

have

+

past participle

 

For example:

Bob didn’t come to class this morning. The teacher sees a student at lunch and asks why Bob missed class. The student, Jill, guesses:

 

Modal Example sentence Probability

Must

His train must have been late.

very probable

Might

He might have overslept.

a possibility

Could

He could have overslept.

a possibility

May

He may have overslept.

very probable

Can’t

He can’t have stayed at home.

not probable

 

See also:

The activity Elementary My Dear Watson from Advanced Communication Games.

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