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  1. #21
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Re: Past perfect tense

    Mav, I've looked over your questions from a few posts back, which I promised to answer.
    I think I have covered most substantial points by saying that when more than once instance of the past perfect is used, it does not necessarily add any further past meaning; and that multiple past perfect phrases are usually a matter of style.
    If I've missed something important, please let me know.

  2. #22
    ~Mav~ is offline Member
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    Post Re: Past perfect tense

    Dear Raymott,

    Since I'm the one who's asking favour from you, I'll try to make it as easy as I can for you to answer my questions. Double quotes are not supported by this forum engine, though I've done it several times before by quoting the former posts and inserting the quotes into another quotes, etc., but this method is extremely time-consuming, especially when the browser crashes during the procedure, as it happened to me when I wrote that mile-long post. So I'll basically (but not fully and entirely) copy my former post here (that mile-long one ), but NOT because of arrogance or being meticulous or something, but in order to make things easier, and to avoid unnecessary quotes. I'm going to use pink for my current questions, notes, etc., and I'm also going to number my points to make them easy to refer to.


    I (Mav) in black (as night, black as cole :D ) in the parts which are recycled from my former posts, but now in pink; Raymott in blue, as usual.


    So, here we go:

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    c) "He turned angry enough to have killed."

    Did he, or did he NOT kill in the end?
    It’s not implicit in the sentence whether he did or not.
    1.a) Does it simply mean that once in the past he was so angry that (even sooner - see also 1.b, please) he had been capable to kill? In other words, does the Perfect Infinitive acts here the way as the Past Perfect does? (A 'yes' or 'no' will do, but a 'no' will raise questions. )

    1.b) Consider this (let's say it's a narrative): "He was strong enough (Back then, in those years being strong was one of his peculiarities) to have beaten up (referring to a former event) that rascal who had attacked his family a week ago (before the narrative point). Is it correct? I would still like to know whether it (and the whole sentence) is correct or not. I tried so hard, I tried to put it into context, so "I think I'm entitled to know the truth" about my sentence.:) I could handle it.:)

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    In the following example, it’s clear that he didn’t: "He turned angry enough to have killed if he was pushed much further.”
    Some people would prefer the past perfect in this sentence.
    2.a) Did you mean: "He turned angry enough to have killed if he had been pushed much further.”? Did you mean the Past Perfect in the 'if part' of the 3rd conditional? (Again, a 'yes' or 'no' will do; if you say 'yes', I'll also take it as your approval on my sentence being grammatically correct. )

    2.b) OR "He had turned angry enough to have killed if he had been pushed much further.”?

    2.c) OR "He had turned angry enough to kill if he had been pushed much further.

    Acording to your last post(s), is it just a "a matter of style"?



    2.d) In this latter example I could imagine something like: "Eventually he calmed down, but it was surprising as he had (sooner) turned angry enough to have killed if he had been pushed much further.Is it correct? (I tried to put it into some context.) Am I right about this?


    3.a) Now there's something I wanted to ask you after your penultimate post... I realize it's a multiple use of the Past Perfect, but one of them is only technically Past Perfect, since it functions as the 'if-part' of the 3rd conditional, so it's not really more than once instance of the past perfect, at least in my humble opinion. Or how's that?


    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Fowler gives a categorical "No" to this structure.

    To the 3rd conditional?

    No, to the use of a double past perfect when a single one will do.
    3.b) So, would my sentence be correct and flawless if I replaced the Past Perfect with Simple Past? If I had known that my endeavour to write a useful addition to my previous post would result for you not to finish your enlightening post you had (without 'had'; simple past) started to have written, I would never have posted Mr. Fowler's notes. ("If I 'had known'..." is necessary due to the 3rd conditional, thus it's not a real Past Perfect, though technically it is.)



    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    The perfect form suggests (to me) that it actually happened, but if I remember correctly, the Perfect Infinitive has something to do with the 'imaginary past', where the actions did NOT complete. (Eg.: 'He was to have come.' implies that he did not come.
    That’s right, and “He was to have come, but he was caught up” is even more revealing.
    Again, if the context makes it clear, then what extra 'good' does the Perfect Infinitive do? 4.a) A matter of style, right?
    4.b) If I say "He was to have been spared, but he was roasted in the electric chair" then I think it's the brute truth that makes things clear, not the infinitive, so to speak. Was I correct about it? Y/N)


    //I got a 'nice' message from the forum engine: "The text that you have entered is too long (10058 characters). Please shorten it to 10000 characters long", so I had to cut it short.


    I wrote a sentence by Shakespeare in my previous post: "I had thought, Sir, to have held my peace." Does it convey that he couldn't hold his peace? Or would it be correct (without changing the meaning, of course!!) to replace it with "I had thought, Sir, to hold my peace."? 5.a) I THINK it would be correct. The Past Perfect already implies antecedence, there's no need for the Perfect Infinitive. (Am I correct about it? Y/N) What's the difference? 5.b) Style, and four centuries? Y/N ;)



    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    And last, can the Perfect Infinitive be used after Present Perfect?
    Yes. You generally wouldn’t write, “He has turned angry enough to have killed”. But it could be made to work:
    A: “Do you think John could have killed this man yesterday?”
    B: “Well, over the last week, he has turned angry enough to have killed this man yesterday.”
    6.a) But it's still not sure whether John is a murderer or not, is it? Ii is not the case of "imaginary past", where the Perfect Infinitive carries the implication of nonfulfilment, is it?
    6.b) Would it change the meaning if you used Present Infinitive: “Well, over the last week, he has turned angry enough to kill this man yesterday.” In this latter case, I'd think he killed that man. ???


    How often is the Perfect Infinitive used among the native English speakers? I only very seldom come across with it, and maybe (only maybe) because the Present Infinitive holds its sway, and for a reason, I think.



    Quote Originally Posted by ~Mav~ View Post
    I promise that I will never ask so many questions (especially not that complicated and complex ones) again.
    I really meant that, but I only repeated/rephrased my former questions in this post, since you had kindly asked me if there was anything that remained unanswered or/and were still unclear to me. Well, what can I say?
    Last edited by ~Mav~; 14-Jul-2010 at 04:28.

  3. #23
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    Re: Past perfect tense

    c) "He turned angry enough to have killed."

    Did he, or did he NOT kill in the end?
    It’s not implicit in the sentence whether he did or not.

    1.a) Does it simply mean that once in the past he was so angry that (even sooner - see also 1.b, please) he had been capable to kill?
    No, it means he turned angry first. "He could have killed" doesn't occur before he turned angry. The tense is largely irrelevant. The sense is that his ability to kill resulted from his turning angry.

    In other words, does the Perfect Infinitive acts here the way as the Past Perfect does? (A 'yes' or 'no' will do, but a 'no' will raise questions. )

    Yes, then.

    1.b) Consider this (let's say it's a narrative): "He was strong enough (Back then, in those years being strong was one of his peculiarities) to have beaten up (referring to a former event) that rascal who had attacked his family a week ago (before the narrative point). Is it correct?
    Yes
    I would still like to know whether it (and the whole sentence) is correct or not. I tried so hard, I tried to put it into context, so "I think I'm entitled to know the truth" about my sentence.:) I could handle it.:)

    Yes, it's correct.

    In the following example, it’s clear that he didn’t: "He turned angry enough to have killed if he was pushed much further.”
    Some people would prefer the past perfect in this sentence.

    2.a) Did you mean: "He turned angry enough to have killed if he had been pushed much further.”? Did you mean the Past Perfect in the 'if part' of the 3rd conditional? (Again, a 'yes' or 'no' will do; if you say 'yes', I'll also take it as your approval on my sentence being grammatically correct. )
    Yes.

    2.b) OR "He had turned angry enough to have killed if he had been pushed much further.”?

    2.c) OR "He had turned angry enough to kill if he had been pushed much further.

    Acording to your last post(s), is it just a "a matter of style"?

    Yes.

    2.d) In this latter example I could imagine something like: "Eventually he calmed down, but it was surprising as he had (sooner earlier) turned angry enough to have killed if he had been pushed much further.Is it correct? (I tried to put it into some context.) Am I right about this?
    Yes.

    3.a) Now there's something I wanted to ask you after your penultimate post... I realize it's a multiple use of the Past Perfect, but one of them is only technically Past Perfect, since it functions as the 'if-part' of the 3rd conditional, so it's not really more than once instance of the past perfect, at least in my humble opinion. Or how's that?
    An if-clause written in the past perfect tense is in the past perfect tense - technically, as you say. I think that's inescapable; but I don't see a problem with it.

    3.b) So, would my sentence be correct and flawless if I replaced the Past Perfect with Simple Past? If I had known that my endeavour to write a useful addition to my previous post would result for you not to finish your enlightening post you had (without 'had'; simple past) started to have written, I would never have posted Mr. Fowler's notes. ("If I 'had known'..." is necessary due to the 3rd conditional, thus it's not a real Past Perfect, though technically it is.)
    If I had known that my endeavour to write a useful addition to my previous post would result for in you not to finishing the enlightening post you had started to have written to write, I would never have posted Mr. Fowler's notes.

    The perfect form suggests (to me) that it actually happened, but if I remember correctly, the Perfect Infinitive has something to do with the 'imaginary past', where the actions did NOT complete. (Eg.: 'He was to have come.' implies that he did not come.
    That’s right, and “He was to have come, but he was caught up” is even more revealing.

    Again, if the context makes it clear, then what extra 'good' does the Perfect Infinitive do? 4.a) A matter of style, right?
    Yes.

    4.b) If I say "He was to have been spared, but he was roasted in the electric chair" then I think it's the brute truth that makes things clear, not the infinitive, so to speak. Was I correct about it? Y/N)
    Yes.

    I wrote a sentence by Shakespeare in my previous post: "I had thought, Sir, to have held my peace." Does it convey that he couldn't hold his peace?
    No. Didn't I offer to explain this one to you if you gave me the reference?

    Or would it be correct (without changing the meaning, of course!!) to replace it with "I had thought, Sir, to hold my peace."? 5.a) I THINK it would be correct. The Past Perfect already implies antecedence, there's no need for the Perfect Infinitive. (Am I correct about it? Y/N)
    Yes.

    What's the difference? 5.b) Style, and four centuries? Y/N ;)
    None, without the context.

    And last, can the Perfect Infinitive be used after Present Perfect?
    Yes. You generally wouldn’t write, “He has turned angry enough to have killed”. But it could be made to work:
    A: “Do you think John could have killed this man yesterday?”
    B: “Well, over the last week, he has turned angry enough to have killed this man yesterday.”

    6.a) But it's still not sure whether John is a murderer or not, is it?
    No one is. That's not made implicit in that sentence.
    Ii is not the case of "imaginary past", where the Perfect Infinitive carries the implication of nonfulfilment
    , is it?
    No. He was hypothetically angry enough to have killed. But it is still speculation as to whether he has killed.


    6.b) Would it change the meaning if you used Present Infinitive: “Well, over the last week, he has turned angry enough to kill this man yesterday.”
    No difference.
    In this latter case, I'd think he killed that man. ???
    It's not implied by that sentence that he killed the man. All that is implied is that he was angry enough to have killed him.

    How often is the Perfect Infinitive used among the native English speakers? I only very seldom come across with it, and maybe (only maybe) because the Present Infinitive holds its sway, and for a reason, I think.
    Often enough. Perhaps not as often as in Thackeray's time.

  4. #24
    ~Mav~ is offline Member
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    Thumbs up Re: Past perfect tense

    Dear Raymott,

    Thank you ever so, so much for taking time and effort to answer my silly questions.

    I would lie if I said that now everything is crystal clear about the use of the Perfect Infinitive (especially when it's combined with the Past Perfect), but this is my problem; I cannot abuse your helpfulness. However, I hope you don't mind helping me deal with some (really only a few! ) loose ends from my former posts.



    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    No, it means he turned angry first. "He could have killed" doesn't occur before he turned angry. The tense is largely irrelevant. The sense is that his ability to kill resulted from his turning angry.
    Yes, I admit that it was an unfortunate and clumsy example. But there are cases where the Perfect Infinitive really implies antecedence, and is not just a matter of style, aren't there?

    Earlier I wrote what my understanding was, and since you didn't object to those examples of mine, I assume they were correct. Here they are:

    Quote Originally Posted by ~Mav~ View Post
    1.) He is believed to be drunk. (= Now they think he is drunk (now.))

    2.) He was believed to be drunk. (Once they thought he was drunk then.)

    3.) He is believed to have been drunk. (Now they think that once he was drunk.)

    4.) He was believed to have been drunk. (Once they believed he had been drunk. Oh, my beloved Past Perfect.:) I think it's necessary in this case.)

    4.b) I met a guy whom I did not remember to have met before.
    Am I right thinking that in the examples above the use of Perfect Infinitive is NOT only a matter of style, but also carries the meaning of antecedence



    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    An if-clause written in the past perfect tense is in the past perfect tense - technically, as you say. I think that's inescapable; but I don't see a problem with it.
    Nor do I. :) It's just that when you mentioned the double use of the Past Perfect, my first thought was something like "He had turned so angry that he eventually killed that guy who had annoyed him". (Is it a good example, by the way?)



    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    If I had known that my endeavour to write a useful addition to my previous post would result for in you not to finishing the enlightening post you had started to have written to write, I would never have posted Mr. Fowler's notes.
    Can't "to have written" be a matter of style? Is it definitely incorrect and indefensible?
    <off>
    (Damn prepositions! I would never have thought of writing "in you...". I thought that 'result' could stand with 'for'. But shouldn't it, in this case, be "in your not finishing..."? Please, don't get me wrong, I'm NOT questioning you, but it might be a typo. )
    </off>



    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    6.b) Would it change the meaning if you used Present Infinitive: “Well, over the last week, he has turned angry enough to kill (instead of "to have killed") this man yesterday.”
    No difference.
    In this latter case, I'd think he killed that man. ???
    It's not implied by that sentence that he killed the man. All that is implied is that he was angry enough to have killed him.
    ...or to kill him, right? :) And there's no difference, aside from the style, is there? If only I could feel the nuance when the Present Infinitive and the Perfect Infinitive are interchangeable without changing the meaning... *sigh*


    Thank you very much again, Raymott.

  5. #25
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    Re: Past perfect tense

    I would lie if I said that now everything is crystal clear about the use of the Perfect Infinitive
    So would I, to be honest. I just use it; I rarely explain it. And I think Thackeray would have felt the same way.
    But there are cases where the Perfect Infinitive really implies antecedence, and is not just a matter of style, aren't there?
    Yes, otherwise there’d be no point to it.
    Earlier I wrote what my understanding was, and since you didn't object to those examples of mine, I assume they were correct. Here they are:
    Quote:
    1.) He is believed to be drunk. (= Now they think he is drunk (now.))
    Yes. We believe he is drunk.
    2.) He was believed to be drunk. (Once they thought he was drunk then.)
    Yes. We believed he was drunk

    3.) He is believed to have been drunk. (Now they think that once he was drunk.)
    Yes. We believe he was drunk.

    4.) He was believed to have been drunk. (Once they believed he had been drunk. Oh, my beloved Past Perfect.:) I think it's necessary in this case.)
    Yes. We believed he had been drunk.
    4.b) I met a guy whom I did not remember to have met before.

    I met a guy who I didn’t remember having met before.
    Am I right thinking that in the examples above the use of Perfect Infinitive is NOT only a matter of style, but also carries the meaning of antecedence[IMG]file:///C:/DOCUME%7E1/Ray/LOCALS%7E1/Temp/msohtml1/05/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]
    Yes, they do. But they could all be expressed in simpler ways, and normally would be – as in the examples I’ve given. Perhaps this is why some of your questions are somewhat difficult to answer – because we’d normally say these things in a simpler way.


    "He had turned so angry that he eventually killed that guy who had annoyed him". (Is it a good example, by the way?)
    It’s grammatically correct.
    Quote:

    If I had known that my endeavour to write a useful addition to my previous post would result for in you not to finishing the enlightening post you had started to have written to write, I would never have posted Mr. Fowler's notes
    .Can't "to have written" be a matter of style? [IMG]file:///C:/DOCUME%7E1/Ray/LOCALS%7E1/Temp/msohtml1/05/clip_image002.gif[/IMG]Is it definitely incorrect and indefensible? [IMG]file:///C:/DOCUME%7E1/Ray/LOCALS%7E1/Temp/msohtml1/05/clip_image003.gif[/IMG]
    ”You had started to have written a post” No, this is wrong. It’s true that my goal was to have written a post, and that I had started writing a post pursuant to that goal. But we just don’t say or write, “I started to have finished something”.
    But shouldn't it, in this case, be "in your not finishing..."? Please, don't get me wrong, I'm NOT questioning you, but it might be a typo.[IMG]file:///C:/DOCUME%7E1/Ray/LOCALS%7E1/Temp/msohtml1/05/clip_image004.gif[/IMG] )
    It’s not a typo. I could have used the genitive. It’s a line call in this case.


    Quote: It's not implied by that sentence that he killed the man. All that is implied is that he was angry enough to have killed him.
    ...or to kill him, right? :)
    Yes. It makes no practical difference whether he was angry enough to kill him or to have killed him. We still don’t know if he did it.
    And there's no difference, aside from the style, is there? If only I could feel the nuance when the Present Infinitive and the Perfect Infinitive are interchangeable without changing the meaning... *sigh*
    Perhaps you should put Thackeray aside at least for now and read some contemporary fiction?

  6. #26
    ~Mav~ is offline Member
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    Thumbs up Re: Past perfect tense

    Thank you very much.


    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I would lie if I said that now everything is crystal clear about the use of the Perfect Infinitive
    So would I, to be honest. I just use it; I rarely explain it. And I think Thackeray would have felt the same way.
    It's a bit of a consolation for me.

    I don't think I will use the Perfect Infinitive excessively (like, for example, Thackeray did ), but it's clearer now, thanks to you.

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