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    • Join Date: Sep 2009
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    #1

    Perfect Infinitive confusion

    Hi, I'm applying to get into a CELTA certification program and one of the questions in the application has me stumped. That's probably a sign that I should hit the books rather than pursue certification, but I'm slogging ahead regardless. My mother (who has a Master's degree in English) also couldn't figure this problem out, which healed my bruised ego a bit.

    The assignment is to identify the incorrect sentences, supply the correct versions and explain. My problem is with this sentence:
    "I regret to have taken the dog on holiday with me."

    As far as I can tell there is nothing really wrong with the sentence except awkwardness.
    As I understand it the perfect infinitive (to have + taken) is correct and shows action happening earlier in time than the main verb, (regret). The sequencing seems correct, and the only thing I can see that is wrong with the sentence is that it's awkward. I can think of several different fixes for it:
    "I regretted taking the dog on holiday with me."
    "I now regret having taken the dog on holiday with me."

    Am I right about this, or am I missing something so basic that I should take a refresher course on grammar before I go for this certification?

    I would greatly appreciate any help with this problem.

  1. konungursvia's Avatar
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    • Join Date: Mar 2009
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    #2

    Re: Perfect Infinitive confusion

    I think it is wrong. With strings of verbs, tense is governed by the first one conjugated, so the rest of the string should be free of tense inflections: "I wanted to took..."X "I did not taken... X" "I always enjoy eaten.... X"

    So this sentence is in the present tense, as specified by I regret. The next verb needs to be a gerund in the present (taking), or a present continuous type of gerund (having taken). The past perfect infinitive "to have taken" doesn't match the present tense of the sentence as a whole.

    PS. I'm describing the verbal structures in a way I find clear, but many books call them other names.


    • Join Date: Sep 2009
    • Posts: 4
    #3

    Re: Perfect Infinitive confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    I think it is wrong. With strings of verbs, tense is governed by the first one conjugated, so the rest of the string should be free of tense inflections: "I wanted to took..."X "I did not taken... X" "I always enjoy eaten.... X"

    So this sentence is in the present tense, as specified by I regret. The next verb needs to be a gerund in the present (taking), or a present continuous type of gerund (having taken). The past perfect infinitive "to have taken" doesn't match the present tense of the sentence as a whole.

    PS. I'm describing the verbal structures in a way I find clear, but many books call them other names.
    I understand that - it's part of why I'm having issues with this. In looking up the proper use of perfect infinitives I found the following examples:
    I regret to have spoken in anger.
    They regret to have been deprived of this pleasure by the accident.
    (from "The English Language: An Introduction to the Principles which Govern Its Right Use")
    What makes these sentences correct when "I regret to have taken the dog on holiday with me" is not?

    Thanks again!


    • Join Date: Sep 2009
    • Posts: 422
    #4

    Re: Perfect Infinitive confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by wasurera View Post

    The assignment is to identify the incorrect sentences, supply the correct versions and explain. My problem is with this sentence:
    "I regret to have taken the dog on holiday with me."

    As far as I can tell there is nothing really wrong with the sentence except awkwardness.
    As I understand it the perfect infinitive (to have + taken) is correct and shows action happening earlier in time than the main verb,
    Some verbs take "to + infinitive", some take "ing".

    I regret having taken the dog ... .


    Check an online list.


    • Join Date: Sep 2009
    • Posts: 4
    #5

    Re: Perfect Infinitive confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    Some verbs take "to + infinitive", some take "ing".

    I regret having taken the dog ... .


    Check an online list.
    Have done, and regret can take either an infinitive or a gerund depending on the meaning - in this case "I regret having taken the dog..." is definitely correct, but I haven't found anything that specifically states that "I regret to have taken..." is incorrect.

    As I posted above I've found examples of regret being used with perfect infinitives in an older grammar book.
    I regret (or regretted or shall regret) to have spoken in anger.
    They regret (or regretted or shall regret) to have been deprived of this pleasure by the accident.
    This suggests to me that "I regret to have taken" isn't wrong so much as antiquated.


    • Join Date: Sep 2009
    • Posts: 422
    #6

    Re: Perfect Infinitive confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by wasurera View Post
    Have done, and regret can take either an infinitive or a gerund depending on the meaning - in this case "I regret having taken the dog..." is definitely correct, but I haven't found anything that specifically states that "I regret to have taken..." is incorrect.

    As I posted above I've found examples of regret being used with perfect infinitives in an older grammar book.
    I regret (or regretted or shall regret) to have spoken in anger.
    They regret (or regretted or shall regret) to have been deprived of this pleasure by the accident.
    This suggests to me that "I regret to have taken" isn't wrong so much as antiquated.
    Hello, Wasurera. I wasn't trying to suggest that it was wrong but I was in a rush and posted quickly.

    It was also discussed here;

    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/a...something.html


    • Join Date: Sep 2009
    • Posts: 4
    #7

    Re: Perfect Infinitive confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    Hello, Wasurera. I wasn't trying to suggest that it was wrong but I was in a rush and posted quickly.

    It was also discussed here;

    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/a...something.html
    Hah, I've done that too many times to count. I'm even worse about it when I'm low on sleep - fairly common.
    Thank link was helpful, thanks!

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