Please check and let me know, if it is correct (to have crashed). It does not sound good to my ears but I am not a native English speaker. I have been learning English without learning grammar (as a native English speaker). Some times when I read which is not familiar to me, I ask questions here to clear my doubts.

On Yahoo:

The Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew went missing in area near the South China Sea on Saturday as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and was presumed to have crashed.

  • FYI, "Sometimes when I read that which is not familiar to me" is correct, although very old-fashioned. More modern usage would be "Sometimes when I read something that is not familiar to me" or simply "when I read something unfamiliar to me", where "something that is unfamiliar" is implied.
    – BobRodes
    Mar 10, 2014 at 13:52

3 Answers 3


One form of complement which presume licenses is an infinitive clause:

English law presumes an accused person to be innocent until he is declared guilty by a jury of his peers.
Since you wrote this on company letterhead we presumed it to reflect company policy.

These are equivalent to the corresponding finite clauses headed by that:

English law presumes that an accused person is innocent ...
... we presumed that it reflected company policy.

When presume is passive, BE presumed, the subject of the main clause and an infinitive clause are the same. But with a finite clause, presume in the main clause requires a dummy IT for its subject:

He is presumed to be innocent. It is presumed that he is guilty.

Your example shows the construction with the infinitive to have + past participle which is equivalent to a finite clause with a perfect construction:

The Malaysia Airlines flight ... was presumed to have crashed.
It was presumed that ... the Malaysia Airlines flight had crashed.

  • Thanks, I understand it now and I also noticed that when I speak, I speak it in the same way.
    – user62015
    Mar 11, 2014 at 5:43

to have crashed is a perfect infinitive phrase. Here it is used as the event has occurred recently and still has a bearing on the present or future.

to have crash won't look natural if crash is used as a verb there. If you want to have it as a noun, you need an indefinite article.

"....was presumed to have a crash."


This is a verb form which is called Perfect Infinitive.

Let's say there is a hunt for a criminal. In the news, you hear, "The robber is presumed to be hiding in the mountains." This is because we presume he is hiding there now.

But here, we are making assumptions about something that has happened in the past. We use the same phrase, and luckily, English has a special Infinitive that talks about the past—Perfect Infinitive. If we have not heard about the criminal for a while, and then an informant told the police that the criminal had left the country (but we can't confirm it definitely), we say that the criminal "is presumed to have left the country" (at the time when we are saying this, this supposed fleeing is already in the past.

So the sentence you've read was not a sentence about "having a crash" (where the verb would be to have, and then we use a noun). The whole three words "to have crashed" are one unit—a verb in an infinitive form. But in the past.

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