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    #1

    want to + perfect infinitive

    I'd like to know if perfect infinitive can refer to the past.

    1) I want you to have found the key by the time I return. (have found - refers to the future)

    2) Generally, the job description alludes to three important factors in the hiring process: what the company will expect from you in the future, what they want you to have done in the past, and what qualifications you need to have at this moment. (seems to me that it refers to the past)

    If I am right with my guess how shall one find out what is meant if the context doesn't help to get it clearer.

    I want you to have called her.

    What shall I understand here?

    a) past
    b) future

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    #2

    Re: want to + perfect infinitive

    The perfect form suggests completion- the context will tell you about the time of completion.

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    #3

    Re: want to + perfect infinitive

    It is interesting to notice in this case that perfect infinitive can refer either to the past or future while indefinite infinitive only refers to the future and never to the past. Do you agree?

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    #4

    Re: want to + perfect infinitive

    1) I want you to have found the key by the time I return.

    '(have found - refers to the future)' I don't think so. If you want something, you don't have it. You may get it, in the future. That is where the 'futurity' of your sentence arises: from 'want', aided by 'by the time I return' which indicates a time in the future.

    2) I wanted you to have found the key by the time I return.(But you haven't found it) Now this is a past tense sentence, notwithstanding 'by the time I return', the sentence being under the scope of 'wanted'

    Take away 'to':
    3) *I want you have found the key by the time I return. If we appose 'you' and 'have', we are forced to interpret 'have' as a finite verb. Here 'you have found the key' is complete, an event in the past, or an imperative. 'by the time I return', which indicates a future time, is not appropriate here, except as part of an imperative sentence. 'I want' in front of it is inappropriate either way, as past perfect or imperative.

    4) I hope (that) you have found the key by the time I return. 'hope' is an intransitive verb. I cannot 'hope you'. The zero relative clause 'you have found the key by the time I return' describes what I hope. It has become an adverbial. Cf: 'My hope is that you have found the key by the time I return.'

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: want to + perfect infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by Bide View Post
    1) I want you to have found the key by the time I return.

    '(have found - refers to the future)' I don't think so. If you want something, you don't have it. You may get it, in the future. That is where the 'futurity' of your sentence arises: from 'want', aided by 'by the time I return' which indicates a time in the future.

    2) I wanted you to have found the key by the time I return.(But you haven't found it) Now this is a past tense sentence, notwithstanding 'by the time I return', the sentence being under the scope of 'wanted'

    Take away 'to':
    3) *I want you have found the key by the time I return. If we appose 'you' and 'have', we are forced to interpret 'have' as a finite verb. Here 'you have found the key' is complete, an event in the past, or an imperative. 'by the time I return', which indicates a future time, is not appropriate here, except as part of an imperative sentence. 'I want' in front of it is inappropriate either way, as past perfect or imperative.

    4) I hope (that) you have found the key by the time I return. 'hope' is an intransitive verb. I cannot 'hope you'. The zero relative clause 'you have found the key by the time I return' describes what I hope. It has become an adverbial. Cf: 'My hope is that you have found the key by the time I return.'
    I wanted you to have found the key by the time I returned.

    3) *I want you have found the key by the time I return. If we appose 'you' and 'have', we are forced to interpret 'have' as a finite verb. Here 'you have found the key' is complete, an event in the past, or an imperative. 'by the time I return', which indicates a future time, is not appropriate here, except as part of an imperative sentence. 'I want' in front of it is inappropriate either way, as past perfect or imperative. What is the point of this?

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    #6

    Re: want to + perfect infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by Bide View Post
    1) I want you to have found the key by the time I return.

    '(have found - refers to the future)' I don't think so. If you want something, you don't have it. You may get it, in the future. That is where the 'futurity' of your sentence arises: from 'want', aided by 'by the time I return' which indicates a time in the future.
    Thank you for your contribution. Let me ask you, where does it refer then in your opinion if not to the future in this sentence? As for "want", I think that it doesn't automatically refer “to have found” to the future because in the following sentence it doesn’t

    Generally, the job description alludes to three important factors in the hiring process: what the company will expect from you in the future, what they want you to have done in the past, and what qualifications you need to have at this moment.

    This is why “want + to perfect infinitive” by itself can be interpreted ambiguously. I see now that an additional context is needed in order to be certain what timing is implied.

    The interesting thing here, to my mind, is that only perfect infinitive can do such tricks. I can’t imagine “indefinite infinitive” referring either to the past or future.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bide View Post
    4) I hope (that) you have found the key by the time I return. 'hope' is an intransitive verb. I cannot 'hope you'. The zero relative clause 'you have found the key by the time I return' describes what I hope. It has become an adverbial. Cf: 'My hope is that you have found the key by the time I return.'
    This is a good parallel you have drawn. You compare present perfect with perfect infinitive. Indeed, present perfect is used with Future actions. Anyway, I found it interesting to notice how one form “perfect infinitive” can behave in these two examples.

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    #7

    Re: want to + perfect infinitive

    Isn't it better to say: I wanted you to find the key by the time I returned.
    instead of: I wanted you to have found the key by the time I returned.
    ?

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    #8

    Re: want to + perfect infinitive

    Other languages would have 'I want that you have found the key....' much the same as 'I hope that ..' Compare it in your language. You will hear English speakers use 'want that' but it probably wouldn't go down too well in an exam. 'have found' as the perfective aspect indicates the 'finding' has occurrred, as tdol said. But when the 'finding' should have happened is not clear from 'have found'. It can be in the past, present or future.

    2) I wanted you to have found the key by the time I return. (I haven't returned yet, or just arrived back. Imagine I call you on the phone to ask whether you have found the key)
    2) I wanted you to have found the key by the time I returned. (I'm back)

    The point of 3) was to indicate, that, failing the infinitive endings of Old English, 'have' is not unambiguously identifiable as an infinitive. Juxtapose 'you', and we immediately interpret finite 'have'. Then you have a problem as 'want' is also finite.

    I wanted you to find the key by the time I returned. (And you have! Well done!)
    I wanted you to have found the key by the time I returned. (And you have! Well done!)

    I couldn't say that one is better than the other, nor that there is any difference in meaning between them.

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    #9

    Re: want to + perfect infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by Bide View Post
    1) I want you to have found the key by the time I return.

    '(have found - refers to the future)' I don't think so. If you want something, you don't have it. You may get it, in the future. That is where the 'futurity' of your sentence arises: from 'want', aided by 'by the time I return' which indicates a time in the future.
    I still would like to tackle this one. I don't get a clear picture here because at first you are saying that - have found - doesn't refer to the future and then you are saying that it does becuase of 'want', aided by 'by the time I return'.

    Well, I still think that in this specific sentence - have found - refers to the future as it will happen after the time of uttering this sentence. Do you agree?

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    #10

    Re: want to + perfect infinitive

    Health Warning: What follows is tedious,but it may answer the questions about times.

    to find
    and to have found are both in themselves, timeless. The act of finding can take place (or not take place) in the past, present or future.

    The difference between them is:
    with to find, the finding takes place at or after a reference point; it may also take place before another reference point, but that is not essential;
    with to have found, the finding has taken place at or before a reference point; it has also taken place before another reference point, but that is incidental.

    When the second reference point is introduced by some such preposition as by or before, then there is little real, practical difference in meaning between the two infinitives. However, as Tdol said, many posts ago, " The perfect form suggests completion- the context will tell you about the time of completion". In the following sentences, the first reference point is the beginning of the wanting.

    A: The speaker has been talking about a difficult time with his son last year -i.e. we have a past time situation for both the wanting and the finding:

    1. I wanted him to find a job before the end of August.
    2. I wanted him to have found a job before the end of August.


    B: The speaker has been talking about a difficult time with his son last week -i.e. we have a past time situation for the wanting and a past or present time for the finding:

    1. I wanted him to find a job by today.
    2. I wanted him to have found a job by today.


    These sentences can also be uttered 'today', but the 'wanting' is past time.

    C: The speaker has been talking about a difficult time with his son last week -i.e. we have a past time situation for the wanting and a future time for the finding:

    1. I wanted him to find a job by the end of this month.
    2. I wanted him to have found a job by the end of this month.


    D: The speaker is talking now to his wife -i.e. we have a present time situation for the wanting and a future time for the finding:

    1. I want him to find a job by the end of this month.
    2. I want him to have found a job by the end of this month.


    E: The speaker is talking now to his wife about the future -i.e. we have a future time situation for the wanting and a later future time for the finding:

    1. I am happy for him to be living with us and doing nothing at the moment, but I will want him to find a job by the time I retire.
    2. I am happy for him to be living with us and doing nothing at the moment, but I will want him to find a job by the time I retire.

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