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    #1

    Perfect Modal

    Dear teachers,

    What is the difference between the two?

    • There was no light on in the house, so they can't have been at home.
    • There was no light on in the house, so they couldn't have been at home.
    Thanks.

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    #2

    Re: Perfect Modal

    "...can't have been" implies a more recent event in the past.

    "...couldn't have been" implies an event in the more distant past.

    I imagine these are interchangeable in most cases, but there is a slight difference in the meaning being conveyed.

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    #3

    Re: Perfect Modal

    I really didn't know that ''can't have been'' is even correct!

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    #4

    Re: Perfect Modal

    It is correct, though personally, I find "can't have been" to be awkward (I don't have any linguistic basis for that, except it just "sounds" awkward). However, both forms are grammatically correct.

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