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the perfect infinitive in a sentence Options
maltliquor87
Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018 4:19:57 AM

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Hello, dear forum members.

Below is a sentence written by a British journalist.

a)
Quote:
What Ford alleges happened to her was no doubt unpleasant enough to leave an innocent 15-year-old distressed, embarrassed and humiliated.


I initially thought that the sentence should contain the perfect infinitive and thus its part should be written as "alleges to have happened to her". Now I'm not sure as to whether the perfect infinitive is really needed in it. My understanding is that when a verb is used with a pronoun it is grammatically correct to omit the 'to have' part that would otherwise precede that verb. It's what we have in our example because we have the verb "happen" coupled with the pronoun "her". So my first question is whether you'd agree with my thoughts on that. If I'm mistaken, any corrections are welcome.

Following my own line of reasoning, I would expect to see the perfect infinitive in the following sentence, in which I've made only very slight changes. I only replaced the part "happened to her" by the verb "experience" used in the perfect infinitive. Since the verb is not coupled with the pronoun "her", in my opinion the perfect infinitive is needed. My second question is whether it's indeed needed in the sentence 'b' or the "to have" can seamlessly be removed.

b)
Quote:
What Ford alleges to have experienced was no doubt unpleasant enough to leave an innocent 15-year-old distressed, embarrassed and humiliated.
thar
Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018 4:32:38 AM

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To me, to allege is like to say - you allege something, or you allege [that] something happened.

What she says happened....
What she alleges happened...

What she says to have happened
no

The to infinitive is with the passive
What is alleged to have happened
what is said to have happened

I don't like sentence b.
maltliquor87
Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018 5:06:15 AM

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Thar, thanks.

I mistakenly thought that the verb 'allege' could be followed by the perfect infintive construction just like the verb 'claim'. This is another important difference between 'allege' and 'claim'. Interesting.

Quote:
He claims to have met the president, but I don't believe him.
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/claim
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018 5:22:06 AM

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Yes. "Claim" and "allege" can be interchanged in some meanings.
In other meanings, you can use either, but have to change the structure of the sentence.
In other sentences, "claim" can be used but "allege" just doesn't make sense.

He claimed that he had seen the robber.
He alleged that he had seen the robber.
("claimed" sounds better here", but they're both right)

He claims to have met the president.
He alleges to have met the president.
He alleges that he met the president.

He claimed his free gift when he opened a new bank account.

He alleged his free gift when he opened a new bank account.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
maltliquor87
Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018 5:33:14 AM

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We've touched on some cool stuff. I think that very few textbooks make a distinction between 'claim' and 'allege' regarding their compatibility with the perfect infinitive.

Thanks again.
thar
Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018 5:35:37 AM

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Drag0nspeaker wrote:
Yes. "Claim" and "allege" can be interchanged in some meanings.
In other meanings, you can use either, but have to change the structure of the sentence.
In other sentences, "claim" can be used but "allege" just doesn't make sense.

He claimed that he had seen the robber.
He alleged that he had seen the robber.
("claimed" sounds better here", but they're both right)



I don't know. If it is something about yourself, I don't think it is an allegation, and this is him averring (without proof, he may be lying) that that is what he saw.

He claims he saw the robber.
He alleges that Peter was the robber.

Think
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018 6:14:01 AM

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Mmmm Maybe that's why 'allege' doesn't sound so good as 'claim'.
It's not the perfect synonym.

************
Hi Maltliquor.
I don't know about text-books, but you would have to be lucky to find a good explanation of this.
The 'example sentences' in dictionaries help somewhat, but very often there are not enough examples to show a pattern.

I looked through quite a few sentences in the Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries (which have a lot of examples) and found four main patterns, two active and two passive.

He/she/they alleged (noun phrase). - He alleged corruption in the government.
He/she/they alleged (that + clause). He alleged that the government was corrupt.
He/she/they were alleged + (perfect infinitive verb-phrase). They were alleged to have stolen the jewels.
It was alleged (that + clause). It was alleged that they stole the jewels. It was alleged that the government was corrupt.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
maltliquor87
Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018 6:34:41 AM

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Hardly any dictionary makes a point that 'allege' in its active form can't be followed by the perfect infinitive. Some dictionaries for learners highlight examples of incorrect sentences to warn learners about possible mistakes. But the issue of incorrect use of 'allege' seems to get short shrift. All of which makes this thread especially valuable.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018 7:22:00 AM

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I just realised . . .

"Allege" is not a common word in normal conversation - you are more likely to hear 'accuse' or just "say" or "write".

However, it IS common in newspapers and in legal jargon - it's one of the 'weasel-words' of reporters, lawyers and editors.

weasel word n.
a word used to avoid stating something forthrightly or directly; a word that makes one's views misleading or confusing.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary
An equivocal word used to deprive a statement of its force or to evade a direct commitment. American Heritage


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
thar
Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018 7:34:59 AM

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It can also be used as a way of undermining the credibility of the statement.
Of course only in a given context, but it can have a snide nuance

She says he assaulted her
- neutral

She claims he assaulted her
- that is what she says, but we don't have to believe her

she alleges he assaulted her
- she is trying to destroy his career
maltliquor87
Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018 12:35:27 PM

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Let me play around with the more common verb "claim" then.

I've only replaced "allege" with "claim" in the original sentence "a" and the slipshod sentence "b". Would that work?

c)
Quote:
What Ford claims happened to her was no doubt unpleasant enough to leave an innocent 15-year-old distressed, embarrassed and humiliated.


d)
Quote:
What Ford claims to have experienced was no doubt unpleasant enough to leave an innocent 15-year-old distressed, embarrassed and humiliated.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018 1:18:33 PM

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Yes - your sentences are good.

'claims' works with a perfect infinitive with an active clause. "What she claims to have experienced . . ." is quite natural.

However, not so much with the passive "what she claims to have happened to her . . ."

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
maltliquor87
Posted: Monday, October 1, 2018 1:26:32 PM

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Dragon, thanks a lot.
Some more cool stuff.

I think my original reasoning holds for the verb "claim". The "what she claims happened to her" part does not require the perfect infinitive because it contains a pronoun. If we remove the pronoun and choose a verb that works without it, then the verb 'claim' should be followed by the perfect infinitive.

I'll provide another example to illustrate my point. If I use the verb "befall", which requires a pronoun, then the perfect infinitive is not needed. I know that "befall" is not a common word, but I can't think of another verb at the moment.

Quote:
What Ford claims befell her was no doubt unpleasant enough to leave an innocent 15-year-old distressed, embarrassed and humiliated.


If I use the verb "endure", which does not require a pronoun, then the perfect infinitive seems to fit just fine.

Quote:
What Ford claims to have endured was no doubt unpleasant enough to leave an innocent 15-year-old distressed, embarrassed and humiliated.


To my knowledge, the verb 'befall' is a transitive verb and the verb "endure" is an intransitive one. Thus I can conclude the following. As far as the verb "claim" is concerned, its compatibility with the perfect infinitive depends on whether it's coupled with a transitive verb or an intransitive one.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2018 3:21:07 AM

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Hhmmmm Think I'm not sure - let me look . . .

It seems more (to me) to be whether 'what' or 'she' is the subject or object.

Both 'befall' and 'endure' are either transitive or intransitive (though you have used them correctly as one or the other). So six possible sentences (because the intransitive version of 'endure' does not make sense here):

What Ford claims befell her was no doubt unpleasant enough to leave an innocent 15-year-old distressed, embarrassed and humiliated. (Transitive: 'What' is the subject of 'befell' and 'her' is the object.)

What Ford claims befell was no doubt unpleasant enough to leave an innocent 15-year-old distressed, embarrassed and humiliated. (Intransitive: 'What' is the subject of 'befell'.)

What Ford claims to have befallen was no doubt unpleasant enough to leave an innocent 15-year-old distressed, embarrassed and humiliated. (Intransitive: "What" is the subject. This sounds a bit 'strained' - probably because the "to have befallen" is unnecessarily long compared to "befell".)

What Ford claims to have befallen her was no doubt unpleasant enough to leave an innocent 15-year-old distressed, embarrassed and humiliated. (Transitive: "What" is the subject. This sounds a bit 'strained' - probably because the "to have befallen" is unnecessarily long compared to "befell" - and the 'her' is not really needed.)

************
What Ford claims to have endured was no doubt unpleasant enough to leave an innocent 15-year-old distressed, embarrassed and humiliated. ("What" is the object of "endured". There is no grammatical subject of an infinitive - but she is the one who did the enduring.)

What Ford claims she endured was no doubt unpleasant enough to leave an innocent 15-year-old distressed, embarrassed and humiliated. ("What" is the object of "endured". "She" is the subject.)

(Just to complete the set, an equivalent pair of sentences using the intransitive 'endure':
That Ford claims to have endured is no doubt true.
That Ford claims she endured is no doubt true.


So, in my opinion (from this one set of examples) ALL the versions are possible - the ones which sound 'odd' are the ones which are unnecessarily long.

I think that you will find each verb has set patterns which are common and a few which are 'OK' but not common. I'm not sure you will find a rule which covers all verbs.

I think you have the rule for 'allege' - but that is only a rule for that one verb. It doesn't cover others, like 'claim' or 'say'.



Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Hope123
Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2018 3:38:31 AM

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thar wrote:
It can also be used as a way of undermining the credibility of the statement.
Of course only in a given context, but it can have a snide nuance

She says he assaulted her
- neutral

She claims he assaulted her
- that is what she says, but we don't have to believe her

she alleges he assaulted her
- she is trying to destroy his career


Thar and Drago, the media is obliged to say alleged meaning not proven yet or they are only allegations or accusations, as a disclaimer so they don't get sued if it turns out the allegations are not true. With so much legal "stuff" in the news these days, the usage is becoming more widespread, here anyhow.

The past is to be respected/acknowledged, not worshipped. It is in our future we will find our greatness. Pierre Trudeau
thar
Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2018 3:46:14 AM

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Oh, I totally agree. But sometimes, when someone has an agenda.... - it seems to be something in the way they say it.
maltliquor87
Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2018 3:51:26 AM

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Dragon, I agree with you and you are right.

If I use the intransitive verb "transpire", it seems to work without the perfect infinitive. So my previous conclusion can be said to be disproven.

Quote:
What Ford claims transpired was no doubt unpleasant enough to leave an innocent 15-year-old distressed, embarrassed and humiliated.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2018 5:13:50 AM

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Yes - that works with - or without - the "to have".
It sounds OK both ways.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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