I don't remember having seen him.

The object is having seen him. What kind of an object is this? Any term? I would like to read more about adjectives of this kind. Links are truly appreciated. Can you give a couple of more examples with different verbs?


I know it's a gerund phrase. My problem is with having ..., which is like the combination of a present perfect and a gerund.

  • 2
    Huddleston & Pullum (2005) don't consider it an object. They call it a gerund-participial clause functioning as a catenative complement. A gerund-participial clause does not normally function as an object, but it can when it is followed by a predicative complement:e.g. "I find talking to Max rather stressful". – user178049 Dec 11 '18 at 6:45
  • @user178049 My problem is with having ..., which is like the combination of a present perfect and gerund. – Juya Dec 11 '18 at 9:42
  • Perfect is a construction. Gerund-participle is a verb form. They don't belong to the same group. I would just say "having" is a gerund-participle verb that is used in the perfect construction. – user178049 Dec 11 '18 at 9:55

I believe it's a gerund phrase.

Gerunds are a conjugation of a verb that acts like a noun. A gerund phrase is a noun phrase that starts with a gerund. Example:

She enjoys writing in her journal and answering questions on ELL.

In the same way that you can say something like:

I don't remember yesterday's lesson

where "yesterday's lesson" is the object of "remember", you can also use a gerund phrase as the object:

I don't remember turning off the TV before I came upstairs. Can you check that it's off?

| improve this answer | |
  • My problem is with having ..., which is like the combination of a present perfect and gerund. – Juya Dec 11 '18 at 9:37

Yes, "having seen him" is a gerund phrase in this example.  Yes, it exhibits the perfect aspect in the same way that a finite present perfect construction does. 

I have seen him. 
I remember having seen him. 

Working from the inside out, "him" is the object of the verb to see.  The form of the verb to see in both of these examples is the so-called past-participle form, "seen".  The resulting participial phrase "seen him" in turn acts as the object of the verb to have

This general pattern holds across all tenses:

I had seen him.   -- past perfect
I have seen him.   -- present perfect
I will have seen him.   -- future perfect

It works even when there is no tense:

having seen him   -- perfect gerund phrase or perfect present participial phrase
to have seen him   -- perfect infinitive phrase

It even works when the finite verb is a modal auxiliary:

I may have seen him.
I might have seen him.
I should have seen him.


Your example isn't a combination of the present perfect and the gerund.  Neither the gerund nor the so-called present participle have any tense.

You're looking at the combination of a tenseless verb form and the perfect aspect

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.