My sentence: " I needed for her to have called me." The only example that I can find is from google books- title: The Ghost of Samuel Cetawayo" with a similar use of the perfect infinitive: "I had expected her to have called me." Are these sentences grammatically correct?


2 Answers 2


Your query sentences exemplify the phenomenon whereby it is perfectly possible for a sentence to be grammatically correct, but also completely unidiomatic. The usual way to express this thought would be something like:

I needed her to call me.
I had hoped that she would call me.
I had hoped that she would have called me [by now].

  • 2
    I do wish people would not downvote without adding a comment to say why they have done so.
    – tunny
    Nov 11, 2014 at 8:57
  • @tunny - I agree, particularly when (as in this case) I think I've supplied a reasonable and non-controversial answer.
    – Erik Kowal
    Nov 11, 2014 at 9:10
  • I'm not the downvoter, but I'll give reasons for downvoting anyway. I disagree with your answer, in that (1) I think the original is ungrammatical; it should be "I needed her to have called me" and (2) I don't think your suggested replacements mean exactly the same thing. Jun 9, 2015 at 13:58
  • (Although looking on Google Ngrams, a small minority of people are saying "I needed for him to …" so it is possibly regionally acceptable somewhere. All the hits sound just terrible to me.) Jun 9, 2015 at 14:04
  • In speech, I suspect, the wording "I need for you to do X" in place of "I need you to do X" is quite common, at least in the United States. That it has crept into Google Books publications, where copy editors guard the entrances to most texts and have (for the most part) the same reaction to "I need for you" that Peter Shor does, suggests that it is on the idiomatic upswing—an unfortunate thing, in my opinion, but not an intolerable one.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jun 28, 2015 at 0:09

Staying on topic, 'uncertainty' is expressed using an auxiliary modal verb such as 'may' ( not 'might' as probable events expressed in the past tense are no longer uncertain) or plain and simple english " I am uncertain..," there is nothing more eloquent than communicating in a conspicuous language. However, to construct an infinite verb preceded by' for ' instead of 'to' will not perfect your infinitive. In some cases, using a gerundive or a demonstrative article followed by a noun is grammatically correct, but I don't see how using ' for' could ever be. Even for the sake of this very example' for ' never seem to be the best choice of composition. Unless you speak in' local pigeon' in complete awareness, the sentence really doesn't follow english grammar rules otherwise.

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