The building was/might have been built in 15th century.

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sb70012

Senior Member
Azerbaijani/Persian
1. The building was built in 15th century.
2. The building might have been built in 15th century.

Self-made

Hello,
I am sure that sentence number 1 is correct but I have some doubts on sentence number 2. Is sentence number 2 ok?
In my opinion, [might have been built] is incorrect because [15th century] is a specific point in time. So, it's better not to use [present/past perfect] tense with a specific point in time. I'm not really sure about my explanation. I would appreciate your guidance on this.

Thank you.
 
  • JustKate

    Senior Member
    No, both sentences are fine. #2 indicates that it's possible the building was built in the 15th century but the writer isn't sure. For example: "The building might have been built in the 15th century, but the historical record isn't clear."
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    In my opinion, [might have been built] is incorrect because [15th century] is a specific point in time. So, it's better not to use [present/past perfect] tense with a specific point in time.
    But the 15th century isn't a specific point in time - it's a hundred-year span.

    For that matter:
    "When did they put a stop sign on that corner?"
    "I don't know. It could have been there a couple weeks, or they might have put it there yesterday."
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    [...] In my opinion, [might have been built] is incorrect because [15th century] is a specific point in time. So, it's better not to use [present/past perfect] tense with a specific point in time. [...]
    Whether you consider the 15th century as a point in time or a span of time, sb, you don't have to worry about using the present perfect, because it's not the present perfect in that modal construction — it's a perfect infinitive. "Might" is a modal verb. A modal is followed by an infinitive.

    It's easier to see if you start with a sentence in the active voice:
    - They might build it in the 21st century: "build" is a bare present infinitive.
    - They might have built it in the 15th century: "have built" is a bare perfect infinitive.

    Now transform those examples into the passive voice:
    - It might be built in the 21st century: "be built" is a passive present infinitive.
    - It might have been built in the 15th century: "have been built" is a passive perfect infinitive.

    Ws:)
     
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