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I came across a sentence recently: Before I turn 40, I want to have written a book.

Could someone explain to me what does it actually mean?

I'd rather say: Before I turn 40, I want to write a book. but I'm not native speaker.

I understand the meaning of the perfect infinitive in sentences below:

If I had known you were coming I would have baked a cake.

Someone must have broken the window and climbed in

but I can't grasp the difference between:

Before I turn 40, I want to have written a book vs Before I turn 40, I want to write a book

Thanks for any help Marcel

  • "When I'm 40, I want to be able to look back on my life and be able to number among my achievements that I wrote a book". – Dan Bron Apr 10 '15 at 15:36
  • By the time I turn 40 I want to have written a book. – Jim Apr 10 '15 at 16:20
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    It's the same difference as that between I wrote a book and I have written a book. Basically, not much. – FumbleFingers Apr 10 '15 at 16:41
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    Comparing "Before I turn 40, I want to have written a book" with "Before I turn 40, I want to write a book", I'd say that there's a slight difference in perspective. In the first, you're imagining being in your forties, looking back, having written a book. – David Garner Apr 12 '15 at 13:39
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Before I turn 40, I want to have written a book.

That means I want to have that job/accomplishment behind me, completed, by that time.

You are looking back in time, at /accomplishments/achievements/. Your other sentence looks forward in time, shows projects still to come.

  • They're closely related, though, because in order to have written a book, you first have to write a book. – Barmar Apr 10 '15 at 21:31

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