In regards to the usage of the perfect infinitive I've been wondering if it can be used simultaneously with verbs of perception by way of expressing your notion or belief involving either a person or an object?

Such as in these examples:

" I believe/think/consider him to have done his homework."

"I believe/think/consider the car to have been stolen."

Or would this sort of usage be ungrammatical?

Thank you.

  • 1
    Some of these certainly sound quite acceptable ('consider' in the first example, when assessing whether or not the homework has been done to a required standard, and 'believe' and 'consider' in the second). I'd avoid the others here as sounding weird / archaic (often worse than ungrammatical). May 14, 2016 at 8:48
  • 4
    Personally, I find both sentences acceptable with 'believe' or 'consider', but both "I think him to have done his homework." and "I think the car to have been stolen." grate with me. I couldn't analyse why.
    – TrevorD
    May 15, 2016 at 11:12

3 Answers 3


These are examples of 'raising-to-object' with an explicit (not bare) infinitive. They are grammatical, but sound odd because a [reduced] relative pronoun phrase is more common (esp. with 'perception' verbs): "I think [that] the car has been stolen." You are also not likely to hear the perfect aspect in common speech; cf. "I think the car was stolen."


The two sentences you provided are valid; so, yes, you can. My interpretation of the use of the perfect infinitive

"I believe/think/consider him to have done his homework."
[I believe/think/consider it to be an established fact that he has done his homework.]

"I believe/think/consider the car to have been stolen."
[I believe/think/consider it to be an established fact that the car has been stolen.]


I think they're all pretty much acceptable in common usage, although only consider sounds truly non-awkward to me. I believe the grammatical concepts at play here are transitive/intransitive verbs, and indirect statement:

to think and to believe are both intransitive verbs, meaning that they cannot take direct object. For instance, you cannot say "I think him funny" or "I believe it rainy outside" -- you must introduce an indirect statement to describe the quality of the thing you think or believe about: "I think that he is funny" or "I believe that it is rainy outside."

to consider, on the other hand, is a transitive verb -- it can take a direct object. For instance, unlike with to think or to believe in the previous examples, you can say the following: "I consider him funny", or "I consider it rainy outside."

Thus, in your example, I think that technically only the ones using consider are proper grammar, because you are using the verb to directly modify him, which is something only a transitive verb can do. If you wanted to use think or believe, you would have to change the sentence to I think/believe that he has done his homework. But once again, common usage allows you to bend the rules a bit and use think or believe, since everyone still knows what you're talking about.

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