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    Default Can have + past participle, Please HELP HELP HELP Guys

    Does this construction exist in English ? , and what it means: can + have + past participle

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    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Can have + past participle, Please HELP HELP HELP Guys

    Quote Originally Posted by Preslang View Post
    Does this construction exist in English ? , and what it means: can + have + past participle
    Most assuredly it exists, Preslang. Maybe you question it because you've been taught that modal verbs are tensed so you're wondering how 'can' can operate in a past time situation.

    Well, the truth is that modal verbs are tenseless. All modal verbs operate in all time situations.

    Here are some examples from Google:

    Results 1 - 10 of about 57 English pages for "can have eaten".

    Results 1 - 10 of about 88 English pages for "can't have eaten"

    Results 1 - 10 of about 283,000 English pages for "can have been".

    Results 1 - 10 of about 268,000 English pages for "can't have been".

    Results 1 - 10 of about 10,600 English pages for "can have seen".

    Results 1 - 10 of about 920 English pages for "can't have seen".

    Try some more if you'd like. Try some 'will' + have + PP, or some 'may + have + PP or 'shall' + have + PP too.

    You'll need to do a "with the exact phrase" search under Google's "Advance Search" link. Use English only for the language of course. If you need anymore help, feel free to ask.

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    Default Re: Can have + past participle, Please HELP HELP HELP Guys

    Quote Originally Posted by Preslang View Post
    Does this construction exist in English ? , and what it means: can + have + past participle
    The construction exists in English, but I have to disagree with Riverkid about the implications. Modal verbs are different in many respects from other English verbs, but they still show tense. Modals exist in pairs (present/past):

    wiil/would
    can/could
    shall/should
    may/might

    In order to understand that, you have to understand that a tense is a construction that is often related to time, but a specific tense can refer to a time other than what is named in that tense (past, future, etc.) and the past tense can be used for things other than past time, such as politeness or hypothetical situations.

    The constructiuon you are referring to is "can have + past participle". We also have "could have + past participle". The first has a present tense modal and the second has a past tense modal. So let's look at the difference.

    He can't have eaten all five pizzas by himself.
    He couldn't have eaten all five pizzas by himself.

    Both sentences express the speaker's disbelief with reference to the action.
    They have almost identical meanings. The only difference is where the speaker places himself. The first sentence puts the speaker's disbelief in the prersent. (Even now) I can't believe that.... The second sentence is just a statement about the past, so it uses a past tense modal.

    These examples don't say very much about tense because the meanings are too close. Let's look at another example of "can" versus "could".

    Ten years ago, I could run a marathon; today I couldn't/can't.

    In the first clause, "could" is obviously past tense. The time is clearly in the past (ten years ago). One cannot substitute "can" for "could", because the time is in the past.

    The second clause is obviously in the present. Therefore, one can use either modal. The present tense "can't" is more concrete. It gives the impression that the speaker has tried and failed. One can also use "couldn't". The past tense form gives the impression of a hypothetical situation. The past tense of verbs is often used for that reason. The speaker may have chosen "couldn't" because he has a bad hip or has gained 50 pounds, either of which would be likely to interfere with a 26 mile run. In any case, modals give the reader/listener a window into the mind of the speaker. Modal verbs are extremely important and they do not need to be strippped of "tense" to accomplish their tasks.

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    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Can have + past participle, Please HELP HELP HELP Guys

    MikeNewYork:The construction exists in English, but I have to disagree with Riverkid about the implications. Modal verbs are different in many respects from other English verbs, but they still show tense. Modals exist in pairs

    (present/past):
    wiil/would
    can/could
    shall/should
    may/might

    Modals exist in pairs as Historical Present Tense forms and Historical Past Tense forms. In the English of today they are tenseless forms. We know this because they operate in all time situations.

    In order to understand that, you have to understand that a tense is a construction that is often related to time, but a specific tense can refer to a time other than what is named in that tense (past, future, etc.) and the past tense can be used for things other than past time, such as politeness or hypothetical situations.

    That's true, but the use is much more limited for the lexical verbs. Modals are special verbs that carry modal meaning into sentences. Tense is marked by other considerations.

    The constructiuon you are referring to is "can have + past participle". We also have "could have + past participle". The first has a present tense modal and the second has a past tense modal. So let's look at the difference.

    In these two sentences we have the negative form of the tenseless modals 'can' and 'could'.

    He can't have eaten all five pizzas by himself.
    He couldn't have eaten all five pizzas by himself.

    Both sentences express the speaker's disbelief with reference to the action.
    They have almost identical meanings. The only difference is where the speaker places himself. The first sentence puts the speaker's disbelief in the prersent. (Even now) I can't believe that.... The second sentence is just a statement about the past, so it uses a past tense modal.

    My learned colleague tries to make a distinction where none exists. The speaker isn't placing himself anywhere. Both speak to the same [possibly tentative] past action.

    The second sentence also contains the meaning "Even now, I can't believe that ...".

    Clearly, both discuss a past action. What is the difference? <can> being more direct, a modal of greater reality, shows that the speaker is not willing to allow as much doubt for the situation as with the use of 'could', which is a more tentative modal.


    These examples don't say very much about tense because the meanings are too close.

    The meanings of can and could are very close. It's the emotive sense, the nuances that make the difference. But both modals operate in all time situations. That's what makes them tenseless.

    Let's look at another example of "can" versus "could".

    Ten years ago, I could run a marathon; today I couldn't/can't.

    In the first clause, "could" is obviously past tense. The time is clearly in the past (ten years ago). One cannot substitute "can" for "could", because the time is in the past.

    That makes as much sense as saying one cannot substitute shall or should or may. There can be no substitution because of modal meaning.

    A: Someone took my pen.
    B1: Brian could have it.
    B2: *Brian can have it.* [* denotes ungrammatical for the context because the modal meaning of "it's possible" simply isn't there.]

    Here, in an obviously present time situation, we cannot substitute purported present tense 'can' for 'could'. Why? Nothing to do with tense. The reason, as noted above, but bears repeating, has to do with modal meaning.

    The substitution argument makes no sense.

    Can we use 'can' in this past time situation. Absolutely.

    That fat old fart, he can't have run a marathon back then. He was as heavy then as now. What a big BSer!


    Ten years ago, I could run a marathon; today I couldn't/can't.
    The second clause is obviously in the present. Therefore, one can use either modal.

    And why pray tell, can we all of a sudden use a "past tense" modal here?

    The present tense "can't" is more concrete. It gives the impression that the speaker has tried and failed. One can also use "couldn't". The past tense form gives the impression of a hypothetical situation. The past tense of verbs is often used for that reason. The speaker may have chosen "couldn't" because he has a bad hip or has gained 50 pounds, either of which would be likely to interfere with a 26 mile run.

    Interesting conjecture, Mike but you mislead. Both modals state the same meaning. Using <can't> doesn't mean that the speaker has tried and failed. Wouldn't you think that a person with a bad hip or one that has gained 50 pounds would tend to use the more concrete <can't>.

    Again, not necessarily but it's certainly possible. The differences relate to speaker choice, which you've taken great pains to illustrate to confuse the fact that a purported past tense is being used in a present tense situation.


    In any case, modals give the reader/listener a window into the mind of the speaker. Modal verbs are extremely important and they do not need to be strippped of "tense" to accomplish their tasks.

    We don't need all the mental gymnastics to defend an obvious language miscalculation. Clearly, this is what makes modals tenseless; it's what modals can and do do, operate in all time situations.
    Last edited by riverkid; 19-Nov-2006 at 23:53.

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    Default Re: Can have + past participle, Please HELP HELP HELP Guys

    Quote Originally Posted by Preslang View Post
    Does this construction exist in English ? , and what it means: can + have + past participle
    I don't want to see you drown in an argument about the tense of modal verbs. For you, the main point is to you learn the correct modal verb to create your intended meaning. Whether modals are tenseless or not is probably of little use to you at this stage. It is more onteresting to linguists than even to language teachers. When you consult a major dictionary, you will find that these texts find modals to have tense. For example:

    could (kʊd)
    aux.v., Past tense of can1.
    1. Used to indicate ability or permission in the past: I could run faster then. Only men could go to the club in those days.
    2. Used with hypothetical or conditional force: If we could help, we would.
    3. Used to indicate tentativeness or politeness: I could be wrong. Could you come over here?

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2004, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

    That should be sufficient for now.

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    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Can have + past participle, Please HELP HELP HELP Guys

    MikeNewYork: When you consult a major dictionary, you will find that these texts find modals to have tense. For example:



    You have failed to address the issues I raised, Mike. Are you stuck?

    Dictionaries say modals have tense but they can provide no examples. On the other hand, any old person can give examples of every modal operating in all time situations. What else can do that but tenseless verbs.

    I asked Mike to provide some examples and he couldn't either. Anyone, go ahead, make a sentence using <might> as the past tense of <may>; <should> for <shall>; <would> for <will>; <could> for <can>.

    If what the dictionaries say had any veracity, examples would abound.



    aux.v., Past tense of can1.
    1. Used to indicate ability or permission in the past: I could run faster then. Only men could go to the club in those days.

      These don't exhibit a past tense for 'can' in the least. They don't even exhibit the very thing past tense does, discuss/describe a one time event. <could> Used to indicate ability or permission in the past describes a general condition, NOT a past tense condition.
    2. Used with hypothetical or conditional force: If we could help, we would.
    3. Used to indicate tentativeness or politeness: I could be wrong. Could you come over here?


    That should be sufficient for now.

    That still leaves this student and all the others unable to use <could> as the past tense of <can>. That's hardly sufficient.

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    Default Re: Can have + past participle, Please HELP HELP HELP Guys

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    MikeNewYork: When you consult a major dictionary, you will find that these texts find modals to have tense. For example:



    You have failed to address the issues I raised, Mike. Are you stuck?

    Dictionaries say modals have tense but they can provide no examples. On the other hand, any old person can give examples of every modal operating in all time situations. What else can do that but tenseless verbs.

    I asked Mike to provide some examples and he couldn't either. Anyone, go ahead, make a sentence using <might> as the past tense of <may>; <should> for <shall>; <would> for <will>; <could> for <can>.

    If what the dictionaries say had any veracity, examples would abound.


    aux.v., Past tense of can1.
    1. Used to indicate ability or permission in the past: I could run faster then. Only men could go to the club in those days.

      These don't exhibit a past tense for 'can' in the least. They don't even exhibit the very thing past tense does, discuss/describe a one time event. <could> Used to indicate ability or permission in the past describes a general condition, NOT a past tense condition.
    2. Used with hypothetical or conditional force: If we could help, we would.
    3. Used to indicate tentativeness or politeness: I could be wrong. Could you come over here?

    That should be sufficient for now.

    That still leaves this student and all the others unable to use <could> as the past tense of <can>. That's hardly sufficient.
    I have given my opinion and you have given yours. That is all that is appropriate for learner's threads. If you continue to drag all of your old arguments to these threads, your messages will be deleted. Is that clear?

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    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Can have + past participle, Please HELP HELP HELP Guys

    The desperation of one lost.

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    Default Re: Can have + past participle, Please HELP HELP HELP Guys

    Anyone, go ahead, make a sentence using <might> as the past tense of <may>; <should> for <shall>; <would> for <will>; <could> for <can>.
    You can find examples of "could" being used as a past tense.

    EG:

    Can you think of an example? < this can only mean now - it can't mean "in the past". You can't say "can you think of an example yesterday?"

    Could you think of an example? < this can refer to the past. (It might also be used as a polite way of saying "can", but it's the only way to refer to the past.)

    I can't think of anything < there's no way this can refer to the past; it's present only.

    I couldn't think of anything < can refer to the past.

    I could have been there (correct)
    I can have been there (incorrect)

    I don't think that may, shall and will operate in the same way, and I don't want to get involved in a linguistic argument anyway - but there are your can/could sentences.




    Last edited by boothling; 23-Nov-2006 at 15:55. Reason: typo

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    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Can have + past participle, Please HELP HELP HELP Guys

    boothling: You can find examples of "could" being used as a past tense.

    What you find is 'could' being used to refer to a past condition. To refer to a past tense, you need a modal perfect which is the same for all modal verbs.

    EG:

    Can you think of an example? < this can only mean now - it can't mean "in the past". You can't say "can you think of an example yesterday?"

    Hi Boothling. Nice of you to join us.

    Could you think of an example? < this can refer to the past. (It might also be used as a polite way of saying "can", but it's the only way to refer to the past.)

    Referring to the past is not the same thing as a past tense and no, it isn't the only way. We most often switch to "was/were able to" because 'could' isn't a past tense.

    Also, "She can't have thought of an example because ... " shows that we can use purported present tense 'can' to refer to the past.

    "[subject] could + verb ..." is almost always glossed as a future. That's why we have semi-modals, because modals lost their connection to time.


    I can't think of anything < there's no way this can refer to the past; it's present only.

    "I can't have thought of anything 'cause I was unconscious" again, refers to a past time. The past is a modal perfect, virtually the only way modals can be used to discuss specific past time instances.

    I couldn't think of anything [COLOR=Green]< can refer to the past.

    Clearly that's true. Of course, it's simply a question of modal meaning. Here too, we could have a 'will';

    "I know her! She will not have thought of anything. It'll be up to us to do all the planning."

    Now you have a purported present tense modal, 'will' referring to the past.



    I could have been there (correct)
    I can have been there (incorrect)

    The second one isn't incorrect, Boothling though admittedly it sounds a bit odd. It sounds odd because the context isn't there.

    A Google exact phrase search shows us that,

    Results 1 - 10 of about 13,500 English pages for "I can have been ".

    is used quite commonly in English, given the right context.


    [COLOR=Black]I don't think that may, shall and will operate in the same way, and I don't want to get involved in a linguistic argument anyway - but there are your can/could sentences.

    can/could show the strongest connection of all the modals. This is because they share identical meanings, with differing nuances.

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