Should he have been accused?


Should he had been accused?

Which one is correct?

  • 1
    "Should" is a modal auxiliary verb which requires an infinitival clause as complement, so only the infinitive verb "have" is possible. So your first example is fine, but the second is completely ungrammatical.
    – BillJ
    Oct 19, 2018 at 9:31

1 Answer 1


The only valid one is:

  • Should he have been accused?

The reason is that we are asking the question 'should' in the present.

All perfect tenses comprise a trigger action/time and a finish action/time.

Present Perfect comprises all the time between the trigger action ('have been accused') and the second and finishing action/time ('should?').

So Past Perfect is invalid, as that would entail asking the question in the past.

  • If I want to ask question in the past form then what would be the sentence structure? Oct 19, 2018 at 8:24
  • Difficult, because the assumption is that we ask questions in the present or future. Once the question has been asked then we need some other structure, such as reported speech or switching to past simple to string the action sequence together. Oct 19, 2018 at 8:46
  • It has nothing to do with present or past time. Modal auxiliary verbs like "should" require an infinitival clause as complement. "Have" is the infinitival form of the verb "have", but "had" is a tensed form, not an infinitive, which explains why it is ungrammatical after "should".
    – BillJ
    Oct 19, 2018 at 9:39
  • You have chosen to approach the questions from the modal first, I chose to approach the tense from its content first. Both are valid approaches, I just chose mine because many learners are given plenty of access to traditional grammar, so an alternative can assistthem. Oct 19, 2018 at 10:50
  • The OP's question simply asked whether "have" or "had" is correct. It is essential to explain that a modal must be followed by an infinitival in order to explain why the infinitival "have" is the correct verb, irrespective of any time frame.
    – BillJ
    Oct 19, 2018 at 12:11

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