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What is the difference between these phrases and are they written correctly?

  1. The man denied stealing the camera.

  2. The man denied having stolen the camera.

And, is it correctly to say the following way?: 3. The man denied having been stealing for the third camera. (perfect-continuous) thanks a lot for explanations!

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Sentence 1. "The man denied stealing the camera." is acceptable and often used. It is the equivalent of 'The man denied [ the act of ] stealing the camera. Using the simple gerund as a type of activity/noun shorter. A fuller version of this sentence could be "The man denied [ that he carried out the act of ] stealing the camera." You can see that 'him' stealing the camera is implied but not specified. Another common way to say this is "The man denied that he stole the camera."

Sentence 2. "The man denied having stolen the camera." This form is sometimes used, especially in writing, but it's harder to justify its correctness. It strikes me as an over elaboration for the sake of formality. Its use may come from another similar use. Certainly "having + past participle" is used for "result participle clauses", when it means "as a result of" or "because" and by implication "after". For example "Having stolen the camera, the man ran away." = "The man ran away after/because/ he stole the camera." or "The man ran away as a result of stealing the camera." In this sense "having stolen the camera" takes on the meaning of, the act of stealing the camera, similar to the gerund "stealing", except it's using the past partciple. So now we have " The man denied the act of stealing the camera [ in the past ]." = "The man denied having stolen the camera."

Sentence 3. "The man denied having been stealing for the third camera." This sentence is not correct. The two parts of the sentence do not fit together in any context that I can imagine. What might be correct depends in what you want to say, what situation you want to describe.

If you remove "for" from the sentence, we get a correct sentence "The man denied having been stealing the third camera.", a form of "The man denied that he was stealing the third camera.", Using "having been stealing" is different to "having stolen" It is used to show continuation, with "when something else happened / while " such as "The man denied having been stealing the third camera, [when she saw / while ] his hand was in her bag."

If the "for" is intended and important in "for the third camera", the sentence must change. For example one context might be that the man admitted that he stole two other cameras but was borrowing the third . We could use "For the third camera, the man denied having been stealing [it]."

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Both are written correctly and the difference is this:

If we are using "deny" + gerund then we are mostly talking about an on-going action that is in the present, example:

  • Daniel denied playing cards with Jack.

This means he did play cards with Jack and he will probably do it again but he denies this.

  • Emma denied being with Mike.

Emma was with Mike, yet she says she denies it. She will probably be with him more.


If we are using "deny" + "verb"+ing + past participle then we are talking about the past; a completed action with a start point and a finish point.

  • Daniel denied having played cards with Jack.

This means he didn't play cards with Jack in the past.

  • Emma denied having been with Mike.

Emma wasn't with Mike. The action took place in the past and ended in the past.


Here's an interesting thing, unfortunately we can use "deny"+gerund to talk about things that happened in the past.

Basically: We use "deny doing" for habitual ongoing actions . We use "denied having done" and "denied doing" for things that started and finished in past time.

In your examples:

  1. The man denied stealing the camera.

He stole the camera; he still has it.

  1. The man denied having stolen the camera.

He didn't steal the camera; he never did it.

  1. The man denied stealing the camera.

He didn't steal the camera.

Another interesting thing about "deny":

  • "He denied being married" means that he claimed not to be married at the time of the denial.

  • "He denied having been married" means that he claimed not being married before the time of the denial.

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  • An interesting thing is when in tests they ask you something like this: Complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first sentence , using the word given, in this case "DENIED" "I have not cheated on my husband!" , said Caroline. Caroline ___________________________ on her husband. DENIED – SovereignSun Mar 22 '17 at 9:32
  • The answer could either be "Caroline denied having cheated on her husband." or "Caroline denied that she had cheated on her husband.". Maybe even: "Caroline denied cheating on her husband." – SovereignSun Mar 22 '17 at 9:34
  • Denying something doesn't mean you actually did it. – eques Jan 23 '18 at 17:25
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Both of them are correct but they are used in different situation.

  1. "Deny + Gerund (V-ing)": express the action occurring at the same time or after "deny" action. For example:
    • He denies playing card with me tomorrow ("play card" action happens after "deny" action - "future" > "now").
    • She denies going to the cinema with me now ("go to the cinema" action happens at the same time as "deny" action - "now" = "now").
    • Marry denied doing that job yesterday ( "do that job" action happens at the same time as "deny" action - "yesterday" = "yesterday").
  2. "Deny + having + past participle": express the action occurred before the "deny" action. For example:
    • The man denied having stolen the camera ("steal the camera" action happens before "deny" action - "before the past" < "the past").
    • Marry denies having done that job yesterday ("do that job" actionhappens before "deny" action - "yesterday" < "now")

Back to your third question: 3. The man denied having been stealing for the third camera: This sentence is correct and it still belongs part "2" above ("Deny + having + past participle").

For the passive voice, it still belongs to 2 parts above ("Deny + Gerund (V-ing)" and "Deny + having + past participle"). At this time, the formula is a little bit change:

  1. "Deny + being + past participle": express the passive action occurring at the same time or after "deny" action.
  2. "Deny + having + been + past participle": express the passive action occurred before the "deny" action.
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