After ______ MA Economics he joined the London School of Economics.

I am confused about using "passing" or "having passed"?

*Edit - I did some research and from what I gathered, the answer is "passing" because using "having passed" with "after" will bring a sense of redundancy. The "having passed" form of the verb has the "after" inherent in it.

In your test the correct answer is, probably, passing. That's what Murphy's English Grammar says:

When one action happens before another action, we use having (done) for the first action:

Having finished her work, she went home.

You can also say after -ing:

After finishing her work, she went home.

So, when there is the word after, it is more "right" to use [verb]-ing. But note that after having (done) occurs in practical usage. These sentences I've found on Google News:

After having done this, he returned to the scene

A bus driver almost choked to death after having found a coil in his two chicken breasts

Khan thought he had the fight with Mayweather wrapped up after having won a poll on the website.

Passing is the correct answer. Having past is the present perfect form meaning that the event is still going on; whereas here, he first passed MA Economics and then joined that particular school.

  • Since when do we call HAVE + verb+ED present continuous? Looks like a perfective form to me. (0: – CowperKettle Feb 28 '14 at 16:27
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    @CopperKettle You're right. I meant to say present perfect. – Gela Mp Feb 28 '14 at 16:30
  • Maybe I'm wrong. I've read a bit just now and found out that the first part of the sentence looks like a "participial phrase". Not sure what the tense of that may be and whether it has a tense as such. Seems to be a 'participial clause using past participle': en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-finite_clause – CowperKettle Feb 28 '14 at 16:45

To me, the meaning of after finishing and after having finished is very close. I would say the latter adds the connotation that finishing MA Economics is a long process. I would also say that the latter is less common in colloquial conversations.

After comparing some of the occurrences linked by Google's n-gram viewer, I see both cases used in similar contexts:

  • "he left the country after having completed his education"

  • "after completing his education he settled in his native town"

There is, though, a clear trend to use the shorter and simpler version after finishing.

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