The perfect infinitive and perfect gerund forms and their usage

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February 10, 2016


Dear Fellow Communicator,


Two important grammatical forms that I don’t recall having ever taken up at length here in the 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’m discussing in this month’s edition of the Forum the perfect infinitive and the perfect gerund more comprehensively this time.


THIS MONTH IN THE FORUM (February 10, 2016):

·       Essays by Jose Carillo: The Perfect Infinitive and Perfect Gerund Forms and Their Usage (For starters, the perfect infinitive often refers to things that might have happened in the past or to actions that will be completed at some point in the future)
·       Readings on Language: Soon, Machine Translation Will Make the Language Barrier Passé (Translation machines will grow exponentially more accurate and be able to parse the smallest details)

·       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)

·       News and Commentary: English Doesn’t Have Enough Words for Being Happy—Study (Hundreds of foreign words associated with positive emotions can’t be directly translated into English)

·       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?”)

·       You Asked Me This Question: The Proper Use of Articles for Various Types of Nouns (In the noun phrase “the spark of human dignity,” why is the article “the” used for “spark” and not for “human dignity”?)

·       The Finest in Language Humor: Not for the Tongue-Tied: Tagalog Tongue-Twisters Just This Once (Sampler: “Minekaniko ni Moniko ang makina ng manika ni Monika.” What’s that in English?)

·       Students’ Sounding Board: Why is “30” Used to Denote The Death of a Journalist (It’s a carryover from the old practice of using the symbol “-30-” to end manuscripts for news and feature stories)

·       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)

·       Use and Misuse: Use of Plain English Could Have Prevented the Miss Universe 2015 Fiasco (The right design choice for a cue card can make such a big difference in conveying its intended sense)

·       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!)


See you at the Forum!


Sincerely yours,

Joe Carillo


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