I am helping someone do the grammar exercises and while
doing the exercises for the usage of "may/might" we came
across the following:
In the lesson it was explained that the past of 'may/might be'
is 'may/might have been'.
Use the words in the brackets and MAY or MIGHT.
I can't find John anywhere. I wonder where he is.
The answer is - He MIGHT HAVE GONE shopping.
So the student asked me if it does not mean it is in the past
(since 'might have been/gone' is used for the past).
I tried to explain it a couple of ways but I am not
sure if my explanation is correct. I would, therefore,
appreciate if someone could tell me if I am on the right track.
I tried to explain it like this:
You can think of it like this:
A: I can't find John anywhere. do you know where he is?
B: Yes. He HAS GONE shopping.
(here, B knows where John is.)
A: I can't find John anywhere. I wonder where he is.
B: I'm not sure. He MIGHT HAVE GONE shopping.
(here, B is not sure. He is using 'MIGHT' to indicate that it is a
possibility that John has gone shopping).
But this still does not address the question about if this is
not really talking about past. So I tried this:
We cannot say 'may be GOING out' because he has already left.
In that sense, it is a PAST tense. But the meaning of it is about
where she is NOW.
Any input would be appreciated.
Hello!Originally Posted by englishstudent
This is how I would try to explain it to my French pupils:
have/has gone is in the "Present perfect", because you say what the situation is; he's not at home and his activity is probably "shopping"; the present perfect is a present tense; it doesn't refer to the past (it only takes the past into account when you talk about duration: "I've lived here for ten years" for example) but it helps analysing a present situation.
What's more, if you had to talk about the past you might say "He might have been shopping", which would imply that he's back now.
Hope it will be of some help...