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Anonymous asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 2 months ago

In what situation do we use past tense after "to"?

2 Answers

  • Pontus
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    You're talking about the perfect (sometimes called the past infinitive) infinitive.

    perfect, in grammar, means completed. It's an aspect and not a tense. Perfect is a better description than past infinitive, because the past infinitive might not actually occur in the past. 

    Here's a list of examples from the source listed below:

    He pretended to have seen the film. 

    Before I turn 40, I want to have written a book. 

    I would like to have been to the Taj Mahal when I was in India.

    English has the full infinitive (with TO added to the front) and the bare (also called zero) infinitive, where the TO is omitted. 

    You can use the full form of the perfect infinitive wherever you would use the full form of the present (not truly present tense, but just "not completed".  It's the most common name though) infinitive, but where you want to show that the verb in the infinitive is completed before another verb in the sentence (as in those three examples).  The second example is not referring to past time at all.  Turn & have written - both occur in the future, even though turn is in the present tense.  have written - is still in the future but before turning 40.  The third example is awkward for American English (at least my dialect). 

    In the USA at least, the present infinitive is often used instead of the perfect infinitive when the meaning is clear from context. 

    present & past -- don't always mean the true present or past.  For example, the present participle, can be used for the past and has nothing to do with present tense.  It instead refers to the progressive or continuous aspect:   I was watching TV. 

    Similarly, the past participle doesn't always refer to the past tense.  I will have finished watching TV by the time they get back.   finished -- is in the future, not the past (but indicates the completed aspect). 

    English grammatical terms are sometimes imprecise. 

    Source(s): ; studied linguistics and English grammar; four foreign languages; native English speaker
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  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    Hm. I can't think of any offhand.

    To went

    To did

    To sang

    To ran

    Past perfect, yes.

    To have gone

    To have done

    To have sung

    To have run

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