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Is there a difference between:

  • She regrets telling him (that) she didn't like his mother.
  • She regrets having told him (that) she didn't like his mother.

To me, the first phrase sounds more practical as I've heard it a lot, but when it comes to comparing the meanings, I don't really know the difference.

Can someone clarify it please?

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  • Your first example seems a little off with the tenses. Shouldn't it be "She regretted telling him that she didn't like his mother."? Mar 25, 2014 at 19:02
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    @KristinaLopez maybe not if the mother is now dead... Mar 25, 2014 at 19:21
  • I see your point @DigitalChris. Mar 25, 2014 at 19:28
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    They're both fine, they mean the same thing, and the only reason to use a perfect gerund construction (having told) instead of a normal gerund (telling) is to emphasize the remote pastness of the event, which is now regretted, instead of making it unclear how much time had passed between the deed and the regret. There are situations (like a death) which make that relevant, and therefore justify the extra construction and parsing costs. Otherwise, a normal gerund will do the job. Mar 25, 2014 at 19:33

2 Answers 2

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As John Lawler notes:

They're both fine, they mean the same thing, and the only reason to use a perfect gerund construction (having told) instead of a normal gerund (telling) is to emphasize the remote pastness of the event, which is now regretted, instead of making it unclear how much time had passed between the deed and the regret. There are situations (like a death) which make that relevant, and therefore justify the extra construction and parsing costs. Otherwise, a normal gerund will do the job.

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  • I upvoted the answer because John's comment was worth as an answer. Thank you.
    – haha
    Mar 19, 2018 at 12:03
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Very often in spoken language a gerund perfect is simply reduced to a gerund presence. I see it as a matter of tense simplification.

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  • Would you please provide a link to support your answer. Thanks.
    – haha
    Mar 19, 2018 at 12:18

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