1. You are actually the third person to call with the same issue.
  2. You are actually the third person to have called with the same issue.
  • Asking "what is the difference" without giving any hint about what is the confusing is not a complete question. The difference is the verb call /have called. Now why is that confusing for you otherwise all the answers here are just speculation
    – James K
    Apr 24, 2020 at 20:57

3 Answers 3


In both sentences the role of the infinitive is to qualify person: its purpose is to identify a particular type of person. A relative clause could be used to produce the same effect:

You are actually the third person who has called with the same issue.

The first sentence uses the present infinitive to call, which can be used about a single action, a repeated action, a continuous action or a state.

I want to press the button! - single action.
He seems to know - state

The second sentence uses the perfect infinitive, which indicates that something has been or will be completed.

He is the first person to have crossed the Atlantic in a bathtub - past
He will be the first person to have crossed the Atlantic in a bathtub - future

Neither type of infinitive gives any indication of timescale (past, present, future): that is provided by the context.

John wanted to press the button - past
John likes to press the button - general truth
John wants to press the button - future

You can regard a call either as the action of picking up the phone and dialling the number, or as the entire process, including the conversation and hanging up. If the speaker views the call as just picking up and dialling, then part-way through the phone call the speaker could use present infinitive (calling is a single action) or perfect infinitive (completed action).


Honestly, at an intuitive level, it sounds fine to me both ways, with #1 sounding perhaps a little more natural and #2 sounding a bit more formal or stilted (which, on further investigation is probably because the second construction is often used in passive sentences, which tend to sound more formal).

That said, hopefully I can help you in researching this. The distinction between #1 and #2 is that #1 uses a to infinitive (to call), while #2 uses a perfect infinitive (to have called). So the abstract question you're interested in is: What is the usage or distinct meaning of the perfect infinitive?.

In general, the perfect infinitive is used to discuss uncertain ideas, such as reported speech or beliefs/expectations about the past.

For example:

  • He seems to have contracted a bad flu. (inference about the past)
  • Mammoths are said to have once wandered the plains of Illinois. (reported speech about the past)
  • She expects to have earned her PhD by 2020. (an expectation about the past from the perspective of 2020)

So, very strictly speaking, #1 would be more in line with documented native usage of English because there is no uncertainty about the past callers ('actually' clarifies this is a fact, not speculation). But again, if I heard this in a daily conversation, it would not seem particularly strange to hear #2.

Do take a look through source #1 for quick coverage of the basics of this construction.

  • Also, see @JavaLatte's answer above about completed actions, as the perfect infinitive is also used to show completion as they describe. I do still feel that #1 sounds ever slightly more natural though. Jan 21, 2018 at 3:43

The semantics of the two statements are identical. However the words "You are actually.." are redundant as it has already been established that you were the third person to have called with the same issue. The actuality of the event has already been articulated.

  • I believe the original poster's question was whether the different choice of tense - present simple vs. present perfect - affects the meaning of the sentence. I'm not quite sure what you mean by saying that "You are actually" is redundant. "You're actually the third person to call with the same issue" could be a response to someone who thinks he or she is the first person to report that issue.
    – RuslanD
    Apr 28, 2020 at 1:38
  • It is redundant because saying that "you are actually" has the same meaning as "you are" thus inclusion of the term "actually " is superfluous. As such it is logically redundant.
    – Pete david
    Apr 28, 2020 at 23:50
  • Welcome to ELL, Pete. If you want to answer the specific points raised in the question, you create an answer. If you want to simply comment on other grammatical or logical points in the question, add a comment to the question rather than adding an answer. You assert that the two sentences are semantically identical, but do not explain why. Maybe you could add more explanation, and back that up with references to justify your assertion? You then point out that wording irrelevant to the main point of the question is superfluous. Fine, but deal with the main point thoroughly before digressing.
    – JavaLatte
    May 1, 2020 at 14:04
  • It is logically apparent that the semantics are identical. There is no ambiguity in my responses. The verisimilitude of my statements are irrefutably true and self evident. To add any more response would be superfluous.
    – Pete david
    May 1, 2020 at 23:18

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