1. Didn't choose to be born

  2. Didn't choose to have been born

The second one doesn't sound right to me, but something about it looks plausible. Which one is the right one, and why?

  • 4
    didn't choose (simple past) governs the choice here and it wants the simple "to be born". But without didn't choose, all you'd need is the requisite temporal circumstance to justify the perfect. To have been born on a planet with but one moon instead of three was his nightly disappointment. or If he were given the choice, he would choose to have been born on a planet with three moons.
    – TimR
    Aug 12, 2017 at 12:30
  • Could you elaborate on temporal circumstance? I can't find any mention of it in my textbooks. Aug 12, 2017 at 13:43
  • 2
    "Temporal circumstance" is a very fancy way of saying "situation." @Tᴚoɯɐuo was explaining that to use "to have been" you need a reason. There was no reason given in your examples, so it should not be used.
    – JBH
    Aug 12, 2017 at 14:29
  • 2
    But situation in respect to time. To be in hot water is different from having been in hot water.
    – TimR
    Aug 12, 2017 at 14:35

1 Answer 1


"Didn't choose to be born" is the correct form. "Didn't choose to have been born" is the phrasing that would be used if being born was a repeated or continuing action.

  • I'd say no, the condition of having been born is continuous; neither implies repetition. Sep 25, 2022 at 4:35

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