1

I called her at six but she didn't talk to me. She might have been busy; that is why she didn't talk to me.

I called her at six but she didn't talk to me. She might be busy; that is why she didn't talk to me.

I called her at six but she didn't talk to me. I think that she was busy.

Could you please tell me differences between "Might be" and "Might have been"?

  • 1
    The difference is an idea in the present and in the past: she might be busy (now or on Saturdays). She might have been busy yesterday, last week or whenever. Sentence two is agrammatical. – Lambie Feb 15 '17 at 16:13
1

It depends on whether there is an expectation that she is still busy.

I called her at six but she didn't talk to me. She might have been busy; that is why she didn't talk to me.

but you expect she might not be busy now.

I called her at six but she didn't talk to me. She might be busy; that is why she didn't talk to me.

when you expect she might still be busy.

The second would be more likely if it is now a short time after six.

Otherwise, using simple past tense is the safe choice.

  • But when we say "I called her at six but she didn't talk to me. I thought she might have been busy. Why is it considered wrong? I mean we have to say "I called her at six but she didn't talk to me. I thought she "might" or "would" be busy" or "I went to her to borrow a book because I thought she might have it" (so why not "Might have had" here instead of "Might" or "Would"?) Is it because I used "I thought" here? Can I say "I think she might have had it"? – Trr Feb 16 '17 at 7:26
  • Additional questions should be added by editing your question. – user3169 Feb 16 '17 at 18:34
0

"Called" is past tense, you're describing a past event. The second sentence explains why the event might have been, so that reason is a condition that also happened in the past, concurrent with the event.

"Might have been" refers to the past, so that's the matching phrase. "Might be" refers to the present. Whether she's busy now is irrelevant to whether that was the reason she couldn't talk at a past time.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.