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Suppose my friend and I come to his house and I ask him "Where is your brother?" He replies,

He might have gone to school.

Let's think of another situation again. I come to my friend's house and ask him "Where was your brother yesterday?" He again replies,

He might have gone to school.

Here context and tenses are different but the sentence is same. Can we say this same sentence to refer both present and past situations? My another question is can we use 'may' in the place of might here?

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Yes, in this example of a perfect modal (might have + past participle), it indicates that the action is in the past (going to school). It doesn't imply that he is at school now, or that he is not at school now. The context provided by the question disambiguates the answer.

"May" would have a similar meaning in this context, but "might" seems more natural.

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  • But by the first one I want to show that probably he is at school now since he is not here right now. Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 4:45
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    Yes, it dows, in the context provided by the question. If someone asks "where is john" then saying "he might have gone to school" in that context means he probably is at school now.
    – James K
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 4:49
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    May is correct in the present tense, but in my opinion might should be used when talking about the past. Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 9:50
  • @KateBunting might can be used in both present and past . May should be used only for present . Right? Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 11:27
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    Yes - see this and this. Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 11:33

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