English Grammar Exercises for B2 – Past modals

1. Choose the correct options (a-c) to complete the sentences.

1) I can’t get this tablet to work; I _________ read the instructions properly.

a oughtn’t to have   

b can’t have                 

 c  shouldn’t have

2) I ordered the DVD a week ago so it _________ arrived here by now.

a should have           

b could have               

 c  may have

3) I can’t find phone anywhere. I _________ left in at school

a should have           

b may have    

   c   ought to have

4) Julie’s not at home. She _________ decided to go out after all.

a was supposed to have       

b must have              

 c   ought to have

5) You _________ promised to help Ed if you didn’t have time.

a mustn’t have         

b couldn’t have        

 c shouldn’t have

6) You _________ told me you’d eaten all the biscuits! I’d have got some more.

a may have                

b must have                 

  c  might have

Show answers

1) b   2) a   3) b   4) b   5) c   6) c

2. Complete the sentences with up to five words, including the words in brackets.

1) Someone ____________ (might / told / me) there was a hole in jumper!

2) Sandra ____________ (supposed / be / here) by now. I wonder where she is.

3) You ____________ (ought / have / gone) swimming if you have a cold.

4) Wendy didn’t look very happy when I saw her; she ____________ (could / worried / about) going to the dentist.

5) The fridge is empty; Mum ____________ (can’t / been / the) shops yet.

6) Last night ____________ (must / been / cold) – the lake’s frozen.

Show answers

1) might have told me  

2) is / was supposed to be here

3) oughtn’t / ought not to have gone  

4) could have been / could be worried about

5) can’t have gone to the

6) must have been (very) cold

3. Complete the email with the correct form of the verbs below.

To: artur@email.com

Hi Artur

Well, we’re still enjoying our trip to England. We’re staying in a great city – but someone 1) _____. told us that there was going to be a festival here yesterday! Perhaps we 2) _____. realised something was happening, because a lot of the hotels were full. The festival was great! According to the local paper, this 3) _____. been the biggest crowd they’d ever had. The streets were packed. I reckon there 4) _____. been about 30,000 people there. There was a fancy dress parade, too; if we’d known, we 5) _____. got dressed up. Mind you, some of the people 6) _____. been very comfortable as some of the costumes looked really hot! I bought you a souvenir. I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.


Show answers

1) could have   2) should have   3) may have

4) must have   5) could have   6) can’t have

4. Complete the sentences with needn’t have or didn’t need to and the verb in brackets. In which sentences are both modals possible?

1) I managed to mend sunglasses so luckily

 I ________. (get) a new pair.

2) It was sunny so we ________. (take) an umbrella.

3) We ________. (catch) a cab as mum gave us a lift.

4) Alison ________. (buy) a ticket – I had a spare one.

5) I ________. (worry) about the test – when I saw the paper I realised I knew all the answers.

6) You ________. (walk) the dog; we walked it this morning.

Show answers

1) didn’t need to get  

2) didn’t need to take / needn’t have taken

3) didn’t need to catch

4) didn’t need to buy / needn’t have bought

5) needn’t have worried

6) needn’t have walked / didn’t need to walk

5. Complete the sentences with the words in the box.

could      didn’t need to      needn’t      ought not to      was supposed to

1) You ________. have reminded me to do the homework – I did it last night.

2) Tanya ________. be here half an hour ago. Where is she?

3) We ________. have told Jenny about Luca’s party. He didn’t want her to know about it.

4) Someone ________. have warned me that the band’s new album was so awful!

5) They knew the way so they ________. ask for directions.

Show answers

1) needn’t   2) was supposed to   3) ought not to

4) could   5) didn’t need to

6. Rewrite the sentences using the words in brackets.

1) Lunch was provided so it wasn’t necessary for them to take sandwiches. (need)


2) She studied hard so she probably passed the exam. (should)


3) I think he’s foreign so it’s possible he didn’t understand you. (might)


4) John isn’t in Rome – I saw him earlier. (can’t)


5) It would have been better if you’d listened to advice. (ought)


6) Why didn’t you introduce me to your friends? (might)


Show answers

1) Lunch was provided so they didn’t need to take sandwiches.

2) She studied hard so she should have passed the exam.

3) I think he’s foreign so he might not have understood you.

4) John can’t be in Rome – I saw him earlier.

5) You ought to have listened to advice.

6) You might have introduced me to your friends!

7. Complete the sentences with must have, might (not) have, can’t have, should have, or shouldn’t have and the verbs in brackets.

1) I’m not sure where Jess is, but she ________. home. She wasn’t feeling well earlier on. (go)

2) You ________. Dave at the football match. He’s away on holiday. (see)

3) On, no! Tanya knows about the surprise party. Some one ________. her. (tell)

4) I’ve missed train. I ________. a taxi to the station instead of walking. (get)

5) It’s been really hard to concentrate today. I ________. (stay) up late last night.

6) She should definitely be here by now. Her plane ________. (delay)

7) I’m not sure why they didn’t come. The postal service isn’t very reliable so they ________. the invitation. (not receive)

8) There’s no money in bank account. I ________. so much on clothes last weekend. (spend)

Show answers

1) might have gone   2) can’t have seen   3) must have told

4) should have got   5) shouldn’t have stayed

6) must have been delayed   7) might not have received

8) shouldn’t have spent