Yellow Level

Lesson Fourteen:

Perfect Modal Verbs — continuous

could should would may might must

 +  have been ______ing

I could have been relaxing at home if I didn’t have to work today.

They should have been doing their homework at the time that I called.

He would have been working at that company if he hadn’t been laid off.

You might have been thinking I was much older.

This is a diffficult modal form for beginning and intermediate level students. In this case, you’re describing something that was possible in the past; however; another event emerged and forever altered the past. Don’t worry about mastering this right now, but listen to how Americans use it–whether correctly or not.
This penquin could have been swimming in Antarctica today if he hadn’t been captured there two years ago. penguin swimming
They should have been taking a test but instead they skipped school and went to a malt shop.
couple eating
He would have been working in a bank if he hadn’t decided to become a beekeeper. beekeeper

He might have been thinking it was earlier. Now he realizes he’s late for a meeting.

(This helps describe problems with perception of time.)

office worker

To make the negative, add "not" to the modal:

I shouldn’t have been working so late last night. (but I did)

For more practice, go to this listening exercise.

Next: Lesson Fifteen