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Shakespeare was the first man to ever write in this style.

Shakespeare is the first man to ever have written in this style.

Shakespeare is the first man to ever write in this style.

Shakespeare was the first man to ever have written in this style.

Which one(s) is wrong?

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  • .......was the first man to write in this style.
    – Khan
    Nov 12, 2016 at 3:29
  • All of these could be correct, it depends on context -- what you are trying to say. If this is from a test, then it's not a very good test.
    – Andrew
    Nov 12, 2016 at 3:39
  • I wanted to say, "Shakespeare was the first person who wrote in this style." So what you are saying is that to impart this meaning, any of the above is correct?
    – user205376
    Nov 12, 2016 at 3:46
  • @Andrew please see above
    – user205376
    Nov 12, 2016 at 4:42
  • @user205376 no, not all the sentences are the same. The past perfect changes the meaning slightly, and the context will change whether you say "Shakespeare is" or "Shakespeare was" He's been dead 400 years so in many cases we would say was, but to some people he still lives in his works, and might prefer to say is when talking about the things he wrote. Again, it depends on exactly what you want to say.
    – Andrew
    Nov 12, 2016 at 15:21

1 Answer 1

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Better stylistically is not to split the infinitive:

Shakespeare was the first man ever to write in this style.
Shakespeare was the first man ever to have written in this style.

Note that write is a bit better stylistically than have written there because it's shorter and a less complicated expression. But you could use have written there as well, though I am hard put to think of a case where that would be preferable.

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  • "... ever to have written in this style before [some other writer]", maybe? Although a good editor would still cross it out with his red pencil and put down "write" instead. Simple past is better.
    – Andrew
    Nov 12, 2016 at 4:09

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