I'm currently trying to improve my English grammar and I'm strangely fascinated with tenses. I just came across a sentence structure that I find quite difficult to analyze. It's probably not too hard but I'm kind of stuck.

First, here are some example sentences (probably incorrect ones)

I went to the mall after taking a shower

I will go to the mall after taking a shower

I have gone to the mall after taking a shower

I'm never quite sure how to handle these modifiers (if that's what structures like "after taking" are called?).

In this case, "taking a shower" is an action that happened before something else (going to the mall). So the former should be in some kind of "... perfect" tense, right? Let's take the first sentence as an example:

I went to the mall after taking a shower

Here, "taking a shower" should be in past perfect, right? But how would that work here? This sounds really wrong and I don't think "hading" even exists:

I went to the mall after hading taken a shower

This kind of sounds better but shouldn't be the correct tense:

I went to the mall after having taken a shower

Without the "-ing" form, the sentence is not that difficult:

I went to the mall after I had taken a shower

Or if the shower happened immediately before going

I went to the mall after I took a shower

How do the tenses work with these "ing" forms? I'm really curious. Thank you for any input :)

  • It's perfectly normal for a PP to contain a non-finite clause as complement, where the PP express a temporal, or some other, adjunct.
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 10:16
  • Your first three examples all use "after taking a shower" which is the heart of your question. The tense of the start of the sentences doesn't matter in these three examples. To make the "-ing" form of of a verb, just add "-ing" to the infinitive (following the normal spelling rules of adding doubles or removing the final "e"). This even works for irregular verbs including the most irregular verb "to be" > "being". So "to have" > "having" (not "hading").
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


Taking is tenseless. After taking can be used with any tense in the sentence, so all your first three sentences are fine - though the third one is a bit unlikely, because the perfect "have gone" puts the focus to now, so the "after" clause reads a bit strangely. It would be better with a comma before "after", so that the clause comes as an afterthought.

However, -ing forms can be put in the past by using having and the past participle. So After having taken a shower.

The difference between after taking and after having taken is very slight, and is to do with where the speaker is putting the temporal focus. I'm finding it hard to define it, but I think that

I went to the mall after taking a shower.

has no particular focus. The next sentence might be about something that happened independently, or during the shower, or on the way, or after arriving at the mall.

I went to the mall after having taken a shower.

The temporal focus is on going to the mall. It would be surprising if the speaker then went on to talk about the shower: not impossible, but not what the hearer expects.

"After hading" is ungrammatical - in fact, there is no form "hading".

"After I took a shower" and "After I had taken a shower" are both possible, and I think the same observations about temporal focus apply as the -ing forms.

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