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.
|They should have been taking a test but instead they skipped school and went to a malt shop.
|He would have been working in a bank if he hadn’t decided to become a 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.)
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