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while reading JC Nesfield, I came across a para saying "It was rude of him to have done it" is grammatically wrong and it should be written as "It was rude of him to do that". Why is the former incorrect? Also, in this sentence "I was expected to have done it", the action of expectation is happening before the action of doing. So, is this sentence grammatically correct and logical? My understanding is that perfect form of infinitive is used to talk about a past action that happened before another past action (hence the first one makes sense and the second sentence does not), are there more uses of it?

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  • There's nothing wrong with your first example. It means that the action is anterior to some previous event.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 11:31
  • Perhaps they want the perfect infinitive only in "...it had been rude of him to have done that."
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 11:51

2 Answers 2

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Well, I can't say that "It was rude of him to have done it" is incorrect, but I can certainly say that "It was rude of him to do that" is stylistically superior to the previous sentence.

The sentence "I was expected to have done it" is grammatically correct and logically consistent. The perfect infinitive ("to have done") indicates that the action of doing something happened before you were expected to do it (by someone else). It implies the expectation existed after you actually completed the action.

"John claimed to have worked there for five years." In this sentence, it is clear that John worked for five years, but he "claimed" he had that experience later.

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to do refers to action as action, not from any temporal perspective, and to have done refers to an action as one that has taken place, refers to it from the perspective of a later time.

At the time we were undecided whether it was OK for him to do it, but in hindsight, it is clear that it was a mistake for him to have done it.

With respect to your sentence "I was expected to have done it", it refers to an expectation, at some point in the past, that you would already have done it.

At the meeting last Monday I was asked to present my report on emerging markets. I was expected to have done the research. I said I'd been on jury duty for a week and would have the report finished in time for this week's meeting.

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