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  1. #1
    joham is offline Senior Member
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    Default refused to have been on the same bill

    Anyway, we would have refused to have been on the same bill as Sting.

    This sentence is taken from BRITISH OR AMERICAN ENGLISH. My questions:
    1. Can we use 'refused to be' in place of 'refused to have been' without changing the meaning?
    2. What does 'on the bill' mean? Does it mean 'having to pay'?

    Many thanks in advance for your help.

  2. #2
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: refused to have been on the same bill

    In this case, it means refused to have been a performer in the same concert.

    The bold part is the definition of being on the same bill.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #3
    JTRiff is offline Member
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    Default Re: refused to have been on the same bill

    we would have refused to share the stage with Sting

    Where isthis from? Somebody doesn't like the Police, or Sting.

  4. #4
    joham is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: refused to have been on the same bill

    Many thanks, Barb and JTRiff.
    The source of the sentence: 1989 Sept. 4 Evening Standard 30/3.

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: refused to have been on the same bill

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    1. Can we use 'refused to be' in place of 'refused to have been' without changing the meaning?
    Your version is better. The original version actually makes no sense - you cannot refuse to do something that has already happened. However, this construction is commonly heard and seen.

  6. #6
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: refused to have been on the same bill

    If they were asked what they thought after a concert they hadn't been invited to play at, it makes sense IMO. And I warm to them for not wanting to share a stage with Sting.

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: refused to have been on the same bill

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    If they were asked what they thought after a concert they hadn't been invited to play at, it makes sense IMO.
    These are all fine:

    We are glad [now] (not) to have been [then] on the same bill...
    We would (not) like [now] to have been [then] on the same bill...
    We would (not) have liked [then] to be [then, or subsequently] on the same bill...
    We would have refused [then] to be [then, or subsequently] on the same bill.

    But not this:

    We would have refused [then] to have been [previously] on the same bill.

    In my opinion.

  8. #8
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: refused to have been on the same bill

    No, but it is the sort of structure that people use in speech, and I presume this is from an interview. It looks odd in writing, and maybe the paper could have tidied it up.

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