15.1 The past in relationship with a modal verb

In Portuguese we find very often, so often that it seems that they belong to the standard although they were never mentionned in grammars, constructions of the typpe modal verb in the corresponding tense + ter + past participle. We will try in what follows to describe this construction, although it is difficult to describe it in a systematic way, what possibly explains why it is never explained in grammar books. The meaning of this construction can be deduced normally without any problem from the context. The construction is not complicated in practice, but in theory. It may be useful to read this chapter in order to get an overwiev. Sometimes this construction is not so easy to understand and then it is useful to have thought about it before, but don't spend more than two hours with this chapter unless you are interested in the sometimes chaotic situation of natural languages.

The construction is possible in English as well and in English we don't have an alternative. (English is an exception concerning this point, in other languages both version are possible.)

a) He could have been it. <=> b) ~ He have could been it.
a) He could have painted the painting. <=> b) ~ He have could paint the picture.

For an English native speaker the Portuguese construction may seen very natural, however in other roman languages we can form sentences of this type in two different ways and the normal construction is not like in English, the normal construction is b).

c) Ela teria podido escrever um livro. <=> d) Ela poderia ter escrito um livro diferente.

In c) we have a normal condizionale II, the action has not been realized in the past. Ela teria podido is a normal condizionale II and we add the infinitive, what we always do after a modal verb. In d) we use the condizionale I for the modal verb and add an infintivo composto, infinitive + past participle, that describes the action of the verb in infinitive as accomplished. The meaning is the same in both cases. Both constructions are as well possible in other roman languages, but there is, in other roman languages, are clear preference for c). In English only d) is the normal construction. .

with poder
Ela poderia ter escrito um livro diferente.
She could have written a book different.
She could have written a different book.
 
Ela poderia ter sido uma grande pianista.
She could have been a great pianist.
She could have been a great pianist.
with dever
Não deve ter sido fácil tentar balancear dois mundos diferentes.
Not should have been easy to try to balance two worlds different.
Trying to balance two different worlds was surely not easy.
Não devia ter feito isto com você.
Not should have done this with her.
He shouldn't have done that with her.
with ter que
Ele tem que ter feito isso à noite.
He must have done this

at night.

He must have done this at night.
Nós teríamos que ter feito uma pesquisa.
We should have done a study.
We should have done a study.

The construction exists as well in other languages, but in other roman languages, beside English, there is a preference for the construction in brackets.

german: Er könnte es getan haben. (Er hätte es machen können.)
English: He could have done it. (~ He have could done it.)
Spanish: Él puede haberlo hecho. (Habría podido hacerlo.)
French: Il peut l'avoir fait. (Il aurait pu l'avoir fait.)


The following table shows the construction model verb + ter + past participle and the the possible transformation in Portuguese. In English there is no alternative. A systematic analysis of modal verbs in general is very difficult and furthermore wouldn't be very helpful, because we grasp the meaning automatically. The meaning of a modal verb can change depending on the mood and the tense it is used and depending on the tense and mood different modal verbs can have the same meaning. In English a modal verb can even have different meanings in the same mood and tense. That's never the case in roman languages. In roman languages most modal verbs express presumptions in coditional and have clear basic meaning in indicative.

can => to be able to in present indicative: I can do that.
can => presumption in the past tense: That could be possible.

should => usefullness to reach a goal / morally encouraged in present indicative: We should do that.
should => presumption in the present indicative: That should work.

must => someone has enough power to impose his will in present tense: We must do that.
must => presumption in present tense: He has been driving the whole day, he must be tired.


If we take a closer look on the following examples we see that different modal verbs can have the same meaning and can lose completely their original meaning.

pode ter feito = teria podido fazer / pode fazer
Quem fez isto pode ter feito o mesmo com ele. Quem fez isto, teria podido fazer o mesmo como ele. Who did that, could have done the same thing with him.  
podia ter feito = podia fazer
Como ele podia ter feito isso comigo. Como ele podia fazer isso comigo. How she could to that to me.  
podia ter feito = podria podido fazer
Não sei o que é que ele podia ter feito para melhorar a nossa situação. Não sei o que é que ele teria podido fazer para melhorar a situação. I don't know what he could have done to improve the situation.  
pude ter feito = pude fazer
Foi talvez a pior coisa que pude ter feito. Foi talvez a pior coisa que pude fazer. This was perhaps the worst thing I could have done.  
poderia ter feito = teria podido fazer
Ele poderia ter feito melhor que isso. Ele teria podido fazer melhor que isso. She could have done better.  
poderá ter feito = terá podido
A catástrofe poderá ter feito mais de mil mortos.
A catástrofe terá podido fazer mais de mil mortos.
The catastrophe could have cost more than 1000 fatalities.  
podia ter feito = podia fazer
Foi tudo o que alguém podia ter feito. Foi tudo o que alguém podia fazer. That was all what could be done.  
podia ter feito = podria ter feito
Ele podia ter feito um esforço maior para estar lá comigo. Ela teria podido fazer um esforço maior para estar lá comigo. She could have done more to be with me at that moment.  


The construction dever + ter + past participle describes in indicative and conditionel an action that would have been recommendable in order to reach a certain goal. There is no difference between imperfeito do indicativo and condicional II.

deve ter instalado = deve instalar
Você deve ter Adobe Flash player instalado para ver os filmes. Você deve instalar Adobe Flash para ver os filmes. To see the movies you need to have Adove Flash installed.  
devia ter lido = teria devido ler
12 coisas que já devia ter lido hoje. 12 coisas que já teria devido ler hoje. 12 things I should have learned already today. 
deveu ter feito = teria devido fazer
Ela sente que deveu ter feito algo para ajudá-lo.
Ela sente que tería devido fazer algo para ajudá-lo. She felt that she should have done something to help him.  
deveria ter feito = teria devido fazer
Se deveria ter feito mais para salvaguardar os interesses dos trabalhadores. Se teria devido fazer mais para salvaguardar os interesses dos trabalhadores. One should have done more to protect the interests of the workers. 
deverá ter escrito = teria devido escrever
0 candidato deverá ter escrito um bom número de publicações. O candidato teria devido escrever um bom número de publicações. The candidate should have published already a big number of papers. 

For ter que, must, we get the following picture.

tem que ter feito
Tem que ter feito o ENEM* e ter obtido pelo menos 600 pontos. - He must have done the ENEM and he must have obtained at least 600 points.
tinha que ter feito = teria que ter feito
Era o que a gente tinha que ter feito. Era o que a gente teria que ter feito. That's what the people must have done.
teve que ter feito = teria que ter feito
Ele teve que ter feito alguma coisa errada. Ele teria que ter feito alguma coisa errada. Something he must have done wrong.
teria que ter saido ~ tinha que ter saido
Ela não teria que ter saído de casa tão cedo. Ela não tinha que ter saido de casa tão cedo. She was not obliged to leave her house so early.
terá que ter feito = tem que ter feito
O aluno terá que ter feito a prova de Inglês. O aluno tem que ter feito a prova de Inglês. The student must have passed the English exam in order to enter university.


* Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio: A central exam that is the condition to enter university.Corresponds more or less to a high school diploma.





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