Perfect infinitive masterclass

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perfect infinitive in English
perfect infinitive in English

This post helps us understand what a perfect infinitive is, and how to use it in a sentence correctly.

Perfect infinitive explanation in English
Perfect infinitive explanation in English

What is a perfect infinitive in English?

A perfect infinitive is a form of an infinitive that refers to a past time. The time it refers to is always prior to the time the main verb of the sentence refers to.

Examples:

  • You seem to have had dinner already.
  • I am glad to have said yes to your offer. I am what I am because of that.
  • She appeared to have been slapped at the party. Her face was red.
  • We feel ashamed to have lost to the kid.

Perfect infinitive in type 3 conditional sentences

The verb or verb phrase that comes after a modal auxiliary verb is considered a bare or zero infinitive. The main clause in type 3 conditional sentences always has a perfect infinitive (bare).

Examples:

  • If you had listened to me, you could have gotten that job.
  • If he had taken medicines on time, he would not have died.
  • We would have won the case if he had hired Arun for the case.
  • I may have considered the offer had he talked to me politely.
  • If you had told me about the plan in advance, I might have joined you guys.

Perfect infinitive (active voice & passive voice)

A perfect infinitive can be in both active voice and passive voice. In the active voice, we focus on the doer of the action of the infinitive, and in the passive voice, the focus is placed on the receiver of the action.

Structure:

Active voice: have + past participle (V3)
Passive voice: have + been + past participle (V3)

Active voice: Jon pretended to have dated a famous celebrity from Bollywood.

Explanation: Jon pretended that he had dated a famous celebrity from Bollywood. Notice we are focusing on an action (infinitive) that he performed in the past. The perfect infinitive is working as a noun (object of the verb ‘pretended’).

Passive voice: Jon pretended to have been dated a famous celebrity from Bollywood.

Explanation: In this example, Jon pretended an acted that he had received, that someone acted upon him. Here, the perfect infinitive is in the passive voice.

Active voice: You seem to have hired the guys.

Explanation: The subject seem to have performed an action. The action happened in the past and that’s why we’re using the perfect infinitive.

Passive voice: You seem to have been hired by the company you wanted to work with.

Explanation: In this example, the subject seem to have received an action in the past. Since the focus is on the receiver of the action, the infinitive is in the passive voice.

More examples:

  • We are delighted to have signed the papers.
  • You appear to have been upset about something.
  • I did not regret to have lived with them.
  • If you had called me, I could have helped you.
  • If the cops hadn’t come on time, you could have been killed.
  • The man could have been saved if the ambulance had come on time.
  • We are grateful to have been given many opportunities by the company.

We, now, know what a perfect infinitive is, how it looks like, and when to use it. Do share your question, query, or feedback in the comment section. And please share the post with others to help them.

For one-on-one classes, contact me at englishwithashish@gmail.com.

FAQs

What is a perfect infinitive?

A perfect infinitive is a form of an infinitive that refers to an action in the past. It can be in both the active voice and the passive voice.

Active voice: to + have + past participle (v3)
Passive voice: to + have + been + past participle (v3)

Examples:
1. You seem to have had dinner already.
2. I am glad to have said yes to your offer. I am what I am because of that.
3. We are grateful to have been given many opportunities by the company.

What is the difference between infinitive and perfect infinitive?

They both are infinitives in different forms. When we say ‘infinitive’, we generally refer to a simple infinitive. The difference between the two is the time they refer to. A simple infinitive refers to the same time (or close) the main verb of the sentence refers to, and a perfect infinitive refers to a past time, the time it refers to is always prior to the time of the main verb.

Examples:
1. I am happy to join the party tonight. (the subject is happy about an action that they are doing in the near future)
2. I am happy to have joined the party. (the subject is happy about an action that they did in the past)

What is perfect passive infinitive?

A perfect passive infinitive is a perfect infinitive in the passive voice. A perfect infinitive, like a simple infinitive, can be in both voices: active and passive.

Perfect infinitive structures:
Active voice: to + have + past participle (v3)
Passive voice: to + have + been + past participle (v3)

Examples:
I am glad to have contacted you. (AV)
I am glad to have been contacted by you. (PV)

Why do we use passive infinitive?

We use the passive infinitive (infinitive in the passive voice) when the focus is on the receiver of the action (verb), not the doer.

Examples:
Active infinitive: She is happy to fire me from the job. (she is happy to perform an action)
Passive infinitive: She is happy to be fired from the job. (she is happy to receive an action)

How do you identify a passive infinitive?

A passive infinitive can be in two forms: simple infinitive (to + be + past participle) and perfect infinitive (to + have + been + past participle). When they are in the active voice, their structure looks different:

Simple active infinitive: to + V1
Simple active infinitive: to + have + V3

Perfect infinitive

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