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  1. Senior Member
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    #1

    may have done

    I understand

    He may do this.
    He might have done this.

    What I don't understand is combination

    He may have done this.

    How "may" can be used with the perfect infinitive?

    What could be the difference in meaning between

    He may have done this. and
    He might have done this.

    Thanks
    Last edited by e2e4; 23-Oct-2010 at 19:29.

  2. lauralie2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: may have done

    • He may do this. <present indicative>
    • He might have done this. <past indicative>


    The following is taken from the Economist style guide (US):


    May and might are not always interchangeable, and you may want may more often than you think. If in doubt, try may first. You need might in the past tense. I may go to Leeds later becomes, in the past, I might have gone to Leeds later. And in indirect past speech it becomes I said I might go to Leeds later. Conditional sentences using the subjunctive also need might. Thus If I were to go to Leeds, I might have to stand all the way. This could be rephrased If I go to Leeds, I may have to stand all the way. Conditional sentences stating something contrary to fact, however, need might: If pigs had wings, birds might raise their eyebrows.

    Do not write George Bush might believe in education, but he thinks the people of Greece are Grecians. It should be George Bush may believe in education, but he thinks the people of Greece are Grecians. Only if you are putting forward a hypothesis that may or may not be true are may and might interchangeable. Thus If George Bush studies hard, he may (or might) learn the difference between Greek and Grecian.

  3. Senior Member
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    #3

    Re: may have done

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    • He may do this. <present indicative>
    • He might have done this. <past indicative>
    OK, but what is

    He may have done this.

  4. lauralie2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: may have done

    Quote Originally Posted by e2e4 View Post
    OK, but what is

    He may have done this.
    "Only if you are putting forward a hypothesis that may or may not be true are may and might interchangeable. Thus If George Bush studies hard, he may (or might) learn the difference between Greek and Grecian."

  5. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: may have done

    Quote Originally Posted by e2e4 View Post
    OK, but what is

    He may have done this.
    I think the implication is that "may" can only be used here if your hypothesis may or may not be true.
    Thus:
    If George Bush had studied hard, he may have learnt the difference between Greek and Grecian." (Wrong, because we know he didn't.)
    If George Bush had studied hard, he might have learnt the difference between Greek and Grecian (but he didn't)" (Correct.)

    Since Mary went to Paris, she may/might have visited the Eiffel Tower. (Correct - it's possible that she did.)

    (This is consistent with the above, but in AusE, we tend not to make much of a distinction between these two modals.)

  6. Senior Member
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    #6

    Re: may have done

    Is He may have done this. maybe equal in meaning to May be that he has done this.

    and

    He might have done this. maybe equal in meaning to Might be that he has done this.

    Thanks

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