might have (might've) VS should have (should've) ~ Updated 2018


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Might have (might've) VS 
Should have (should've)

Several of my private and company students here in Japan have been confused by this grammar. Let me share a lesson I made to help explain these 2 phrases. If it's helpful for you be sure to leave a comment below!


Might have ~ In spoken English we say might've

Might have is used to describe something that was possible in the past if another thing had happened.

That's a bit confusing, look at this example: 

"If we had gone to Hollywood, we might've met a movie star."
~ There was a possibility to meet someone famous, but we didn't go to Hollywood. (So it wasn't possible.)



Might have is also used to express uncertainty about a past event.

"I think I might've left my umbrella on the train."
~ I lost my umbrella, I may have forgotten it on the train but I'm not certain.




Natural conversation with might've:


Andy : “The game was almost sold out by the time I got to the ticket office. There were no good seats left, I had to buy ones way out in left field.”
Will : “You might've been able to get better seats if you got there earlier.”


Vincent: “Everyone's here except Brad, he's late.”
Ian: “He might've had to work late tonight. He said work has been busy this week.”






Should have  ~ In spoken English we say should've 

Should have is used to describe something that was expected to happen, but has not happened.

The bus should've arrived ten minutes ago.
~ The bus has not arrived, I expected the bus to be here 10 minutes ago.



Should have is also used to show regret for something that cannot now be changed.

"It's so busy in Starbucks today. We should've gone to Mr Donut."

~ We're in Starbucks now but there are many customers so we have to wait. (for coffee, food, seats etc.) It was a mistake to come here, I feel going to Mr Donut was a better choice, but it's too late now.




Natural conversation with should've:


Richard: “I have bad news boss. My computer crashed and I lost all the files for the year end project.”
Boss: “What!?!? That project is very important to this company! You should've made backup copies of those files!”


John: “Did you see Grandpa this morning? He lost a lot of weight! I think the cardigan we bought him will be too big.”
Dave: “We should've bought a smaller size.”


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Might and Should definitions from oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com

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