I have written the following sentence myself. However, even though it feels like it is possible adding the word having in the sentence, I am not sure which meaning it adds to the sentece exactly.

And I shook his hand and left the cafe in a good spirit after having spending one hour there.

Does it add the meaning of "I have to spend one hour"

Does it add the present perfect aspect?

  • 1
    Valid choices (which both mean exactly the same, in your specific context) are after spending, or after having spent. Note that idiomatically, you'd either leave in good spirits (plural) or in a good mood (singular). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Dec 24 '19 at 19:15
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica what I understood from your answer is that "having spent" and "after spending" are both correct but "having spent " contains a sense of coercion. On the other hand " having spending" is grammatically wrong. Am I correct? – Mrt Dec 24 '19 at 19:39
  • 1
    I think you're mixing up having + past participle (having done, having spent) and having to + infinitive (having to do, having to spend). They are very different. The first is the perfect gerund. The second is the simple gerund form of the idiom have to do something (the perfect form would be having had to do something). grammaring.com/the-forms-of-the-gerund / dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/… – athlonusm Dec 24 '19 at 20:47
  • What @athlonusm said. I never mentioned "coercion", but in your context that would be expressed as ...after having had to spend one hour there (more naturally, perhaps, ...after having to spend...). With the implication that he hadn't wanted to be there for so long (or at all). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Dec 25 '19 at 13:14

The word "have" has several meanings.

It can indicate that you are required or obligated to do something. Like, "I have to work overtime today." I don't want to, but my boss insists.

It can also indicate the past perfect tense. "I have worked overtime many weekends." In this case it has nothing to do with being required to do it. I might just as well say, "I have eaten ice cream."

When you use "have" to indicate past perfect, you should use the particle form of the verb. "I have spent", not "I have spending".

  • Update in response to comment/question *

The past perfect, like "had spent", means that the action happened before some other action. The "other action" may be spelled out, or may be implied, but should be clear from the context. Like, "In 2010 I got a job in France. I HAD LIVED 10 years in Germany." The use of the past perfect tells the reader that the time in Germany was before some other time. From the context, presumably before getting the job in France.

The simple past, like "spent", means that the action happened in the past, without specifying whether it was before or after any other action.

But I'm speaking of the grammar of a verb tense. Other words in a sentence might make clear that one action came before another. Life if you say, "Before I got the job in France, I lived in Germany for ten years", the word "before" tells us that the time in Germany came before the time in France. We don't need to use a past perfect to convey that meaning.

So, "I left the cafe after having spent one hour there" and "I left the cafe after spending one hour there" both mean the same thing. The past perfect in the first case tells us that the one hour spent came before some other time. But the word "after" tells us that anyway. Perhaps with some creativity you could come up with a sentence where you would need the past perfect to make it clear just what times the "after" was referring to. But in this case, it doesn't matter.

If you're trying to say that something was required and also use a past perfect, you end up using the word "have" (or some form of "have", like "had" or "having") twice. Like, "After having to have spent one hour at the cafe ..." This can sound awkward and confusing, so we usually reword the sentence to use a simple past or an infinitive. "I had to spend one hour at the cafe, and after I left I ..." Or use a different word to express the requirement. Like, "After I was forced to have spent one hour at the cafe ..."

| improve this answer | |
  • Hey Jay, thanks for the answer. the thing is I still do not know how to apply this information to my sentence. Therefore I have two questions: First one is that what is the difference between "... after spending one hour there" and " ...after having spent one hour there". The second one is what if I would like to imply I had to be there for some reasons. In this case how would you reconstruct the sentence? For example, there was a business presentation at the cafe and I had to be there even though I would not prefer to be. – Mrt Dec 24 '19 at 22:53
  • I've added to my answer. – Jay Dec 25 '19 at 15:03

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.