English Grammar Perfect Modals
Learn English Perfect Modals Grammar

Grammar Level 3- Lesson Twelve

In this grammar lesson, you learn about Perfect Modals in English and how to use it in your English conversation and writing. Just follow examples and write them down a few times to learn them very well. After finishing this lesson, you should work on its quiz.

Grammar Recap

In our previous lesson, we covered the Idiomatic Modals If you just landed on this page, we suggest that you complete our previous lesson including its quizzes before continuing on this lesson.

Requirement Lessons

There is no required lessons for working and learning this lesson.


Perfect Modal Verbs

modal verb + have + past participle


Perfect modals take a modal verb (could, should, must, might/may) and pairs it with a perfect tense phrase (have + past participle), which is how it gets its name. Don’t let the vocabulary confuse you! When we say perfect modals, we are not saying that these are modals that are perfect.


Each of these modal constructions have slightly different meanings, and that’s what you will learn in this lesson. Pay attention to the construction and use of each, as these phrases are very common in English- you will hear them often and will need to use them. Overall, perfect modals allow you to talk about possibilities or regret.


As an added bonus, one way to remember this type of construction? Take a listen to one of the most popular American songs, “It Must Have Been Love” and you will never use it incorrectly!


Perfect Modal

could have _____

couldn’t have _____

past ability
The boy could have done the dishes himself, but his father decided to help.

should have ____

shouldn’t have ____

You did or didn’t do something that was a good idea.

The girl shouldn’t have spun around so many times. She got dizzy and fell down.

spin: turn around many times.

spin / spun / spun

would have ____

wouldn’t have ____

past condition /

past situation

This house of cards would have fallen over if the person who built it hadn’t been so careful.

may have _____

may not have _____

past possibility
My grandfather may have used this camera when he was a young man, but I’m not sure.

might have ______

might not have _____

past possibility
Her mother might have put mustard on her sandwich. She hopes not.

must have ____

must not have ___

past probability.

This indicates that something probably happened in the past.

They must have practiced a lot because they’re very good musicians.

Let’s not forget…

The Future Perfect Tense

Unlike all the other modals above, will is used for the future:

Subject + will + have + past participle

I will have lived
We will have lived
You will have lived
You will have lived
He will have lived
She will have lived
They will have lived
It will have lived

This is a difficult tense to use. It describes an action that will be completed in the future.

For example:

I moved to Arizona in 2000. The year now is 2024.

By 2011, I will have lived in Minnesota for 20 years.


Quiz for Perfect Modals

Now that you learned your new lesson, it is time to go to the Perfect Modals page and finish your quiz. While working on your quiz, you can always go back to its lesson to refresh your memory.

Private Lessons in English

If you need help with quizzes of this lesson, you can hire one of our expert private English teachers by going to our Private English Tutors page and submit a request. When submitting your request, make sure to mention the grammar level and lesson number.

Next Grammar Lesson

In our next lesson, we will cover the Present Perfect Continuous Before moving to the next lesson, we suggest that you complete this lesson including its quizzes.

Related Grammar Lessons


Grammar Level 3 Outline

If you wish to explore all lessons that are covered in HiCafe Grammar Level 3, you can visit the Grammar Level 3 Outline page.


Practice English Grammar Skills

For a comprehensive practice of English grammar with quizzes, you can visit the Improve English Grammar Skills page to view HiCafe 250 grammar lessons in 7 levels plus prepositions and pronouns.