The perfect gerund’s time-frame precedes that of the main clause

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March 21, 2016


Dear Forum Member,


Two important grammatical forms that I don’t recall having ever taken up at length in Jose Carillo’s English Forum are the perfect infinitive and the perfect gerund. I was asked about their usage sometime in 2011 but having been so pressed for time when I wrote my reply, I only managed to come up with what looks to me now as a bare-bones discussion of the two forms, and of just two of their particular applications at that. To make up for that less than adequate treatment, I discussed the perfect infinitive and its usage more comprehensively in last month’s Forum update. This time I am taking up the perfect gerund to round up the two-part discussion.



·       Essays by Jose Carillo: The Perfect Gerund’s Time-Frame Precedes That of the Main Clause (It differs in this respect from the simple gerund, which doesn’t indicate the time when its action takes place)
·       Readings on Language: Descriptivism Can Quickly Succumb To Its Very Own Kind of Smugness (“Let’s be descriptivists when the ‘errors’ harm no one, but be prescriptivists instead when language needs to be made less oppressive”)

·       You Asked Me This Question: The Proper Form of the Future Perfect Progressive Tense (To make sense, it needs to add the auxiliary verb “will” to “have been” to work with the verb’s present participle)

·       News and Commentary: Obscure English Phrases That You’d Rather Kick the Bucket Than Hear (30 bizarre figurative expressions that are likely to befuddle both native and nonnative English speakers)

·       Students’ Sounding Board: Cautionary Tale on Asserting What is Good or Bad English (Prudence and better anger management as antidotes to unpleasant student-teacher confrontations over grammar)

·       Badly Written, Badly Spoken: The Idiomatic Way To Say That Political Advertising is Paid For (Go for the more natural-sounding, concise, and effortless way of announcing things)

·       The Finest in Language Humor: A Translation of 20 Common Scientific Research Phrases (Sampler—Research phrase: “It has long been known ...” Meaning: “I didn’t look up the original reference.”)

·       Education and Training: A Symposium to Bring Simplicity and Clarity to Business and Government (Solid insights for addressing and overcoming the crisis of complexity in communications)

·       Advocacies: William Zinsser on Writing: “Short is Better Than Long. Simple is Good.” (Beloved advocate of clarity and brevity in English prose writes 30)

·       Getting to Know English: The Perplexing Workings of the Double Possessive (The evident superfluity of this default usage does seem like grammatical overkill!)

·       How Good is Your English?: Debatable Answer Choices in English Practice Test (They can confuse when too arithmetical, too arbitrary, and too culture-bound!)

·       Time Out from English Grammar: All Lovers Should Thank Their Lucky Stars for Valentine’s Day (As originally intended in ancient times, the festivity levels the playing field for love and procreation)

·       The Lounge: A Valentine’s Day Quiz for Incurable Romantics (“What do you think is the most romantic line in the English language ever?”)

·       Getting to Know English: The Little-Heralded Past Imperfect Tense in English (It evokes the sense of continuous, incomplete, or coincident actions in the past)


See you at the Forum!


Sincerely yours,

Joe Carillo


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