+0
He knew that she might not have stolen the money because she hadn't been in the house at the time.

He knew that she might have stolen the money because she had been in the house at the time.

He knew that she may not have stolen the money because she hadn't been in the house at the time.

He knew that she may have stolen the money because she had been in the house at the time.

Please see if I'm right in using may/might (not) have done here. I need your help. Thank you!!!
1 2
Comments  
ViceidolHe knew that she might not have stolen the money because she hadn't been in the house at the time. This is an archaic use. I think couldn't have stolen is what you mean.

He knew that she might have stolen the money because she had been in the house at the time. okay

He knew that she may not have stolen the money because she hadn't been in the house at the time. (same as the first one)

He knew that she may have stolen the money because she had been in the house at the time. okay

Please see if I'm right in using may/might (not) have done here. I need your help. Thank you!!!

Numbers one and three could be taken two ways. (1) There's a chance she didn't steal it (but could have stolen it without being there) (2) She would not have been allowed to steal it

Couldn't, on the other hand, would mean she wasn't capable of doing it - it was impossible for her to do it.

Thanks for your answer!
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
May I ask if I can replace all the "may/might" with "would"? Would that be sensible? Like:

He knew that she would not have stolen the money because she hadn't been in the house at the time.

He knew that she would have stolen the money because she had been in the house at the time.

He knew that she would not have stolen the money because she hadn't been in the house at the time.

He knew that she would have stolen the money because she had been in the house at the time.

Thank you for your reply!
Hi Viceidol, Someone else should come in on this because there's prescriptive material on it. Would can have two meanings here. In your first sentence, one would make sense and one would not.

In your second sentence, neither would make sense because of context and logic. (Sentences three and four turn out to be duplicates.)

If you take the position in sentence two that her being in the house is a "necessary condition" but not a "sufficient condition" for her to have stolen the money, then you may only say that she "could" have done it. (This is the use of "would" that doesn't involve "willing" to do it.) The other use is, "He knew that she would have stolen the money if she had been in the house at the time."

Back to sentence one, it works for the use of would which may be replaced by could. For the use involving "willing to do it," it makes no sense, because not being there, she couldn't will not to steal it.
I'm very partial to might have, not may have, after knew (and all other past tense forms). You see, if something may have happened, then it is possible that it happened at any time up to the time of saying so. The possibility covers all of the past up to the time of your speaking of it. But when you say knew, the knowing happens at some definite point in the past that does not continue up to the present moment. So if you say He knew that she may have ... you are, in a way, allowing for the possibility that he knew yesterday something that is possible today, so, at least to my ear, it seems that you're saying he might have known something before it happened. Therefore, I would not have chosen either of the last two examples with may.
As for the first example, I believe the most logical background information we're supposed to infer from this is that "she" had to be in the house in order to steal the money, that is, this wasn't a theft through an electronic transfer or any other such exotic means. Given that, it is anomalous to say She was not in the house. Therefore it is possible that she did not steal the money. One wants to say She was not in the house. Therefore it is not possible that she did steal the money. Hence, Avangi's change from might not have (possible that ... did not) to could not have (impossible that ... did).
The second example is perfect as is.
CJ
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Regarding your replacements with would, I think you are just mindlessly playing with words because your third and fourth sentences are the same as the first and second. You're not paying attention to what you are writing or you would have noticed that. Emotion: smile
The because clauses don't make sense to me when you substitute would. You no longer have the idea of logical inference that might provides, so logical reasoning with because seems inappropriate. By a long stretch of the imagination, one could almost get a "would of probability" interpretation, but that idea does not easily come to mind upon the first (or even second or third) reading of the sentences.
All in all, the substitution of would does not improve matters.
CJ
I'm sorry that I was so tried from my work that I didn't pay enough attention on the post. Thank you, Avangi and Jim.Your opinion are valuable to me. And I have to thank Jim for his extremely detailed explanation. Thanks a lot!

May I ask one last question on this subject?

Jim said the first sentence is strange because of the context. Then what if we simply eliminate the "becuase-clause"? Like:

He knew that she might not have stolen the money. (I think it's like "He knew that she probably didn't steal the money.")

Will that be sensible? Thank you so much for your opinion.

Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Show more