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"She might have been waiting for us"

‘Have been waiting’ forms the present perfect progressive tense

‘might’ is a modal verb

The verb that follows modal verbs is suppose to be a bare infinitive but how can that be here? To form a verb tense you need helping verbs so the words ‘have been’ are suppose to be helping verbs So which is it? Is ‘have’ a helping verb or a bare infinitive?

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  • I don't know why you think that a verb tense requires a 'helping' verb. It doesn't. Here, perfect "have" is a plain (infinitive) form and "been" is progressive, "Might" is a tensed form and "waiting" is a lexical verb. I strongly advise dropping the term 'helping verb'. It's nonsense. – BillJ Jan 7 at 9:02
  • I’m sorry. I didn’t know. What should they be called then? – some random girl Jan 7 at 9:11
  • If "helping verb" is another term for an auxiliary verb then yes, "have" and "been" are both auxiliaries here, as BillJ correctly says in his answer. You state that "have been waiting" is present perfect progressive. It can be. But not necessarily. In "(to) have been waiting", "have" is a bare infinitive. – rjpond Jan 7 at 11:23
  • What would that make “been waiting” in your example then? – some random girl Jan 7 at 11:50
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    @somerandomgirl The point is that in "might have been waiting", "have been waiting" is the perfect progressive tense, but it's not the present perfect because "have" is in the plain (infinitive) form so there is no compound tense, thus no present perfect tense. See the edit in my answer. – BillJ Jan 7 at 13:58
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She might have been waiting for us.

Here, perfect "have" is a plain (infinitive) form.

"Have" is the perfect auxiliary and "been" is the progressive auxiliary.

The modal "might" is a tensed form and "waiting" is a lexical verb.

I strongly recommend dropping the term 'helping verb'. It's nonsense

Edit:

The perfect can combine with the preterite ("She had been waiting") and present tense ("She has been waiting"), where it is a compound tense. But it can also occur in clauses without inflectional tense, as in your example, where "have" is in the plain form, so there is no compound tense.

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