I saw a sentence

She hoped to have done

Or a sentence, created with the same structure. I don'tunderstand how it works. Then I saw a full version of it:

She hoped that she had done

So, it's like a combination of Past Simple(hoped) + Past Perfect(had done) but combining them we can't have Past Perfect, we have only perfect infinitive.

When I later saw

She can't have done

I didn't understand it, too. Since then I've been trying to create a full version of it which would be clear for me. I tried

It can't be possible that she has done - I was told it was incorrect

It can't be true that she has done - I was told it was incorrect, too

I also have such variants:

It can't be real that she has done

There can't be a possibility that she has done it

There can't be a probability that she has done it

Is there any sentence among those I wrote which can be equaled to "She can't have done"?

  • She hoped to have done isn't really a syntactically valid standalone sentence (to have done what?). And that specific sequence would require a fairly unusual context to make it a credible utterance within a conversation. But some of your other examples could be perfectly natural in "ordinary" contexts: "Did Jane go out?", "She can't have done. Her coat is still there by the door". Jun 6, 2020 at 14:27
  • Can I say any of my examples (1) It can't be real that she has done 2) There can't be a possibility that she has done 3) There can't be a probability that she has done it) to mean "She can't have done"? Jun 6, 2020 at 14:50
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    I think you're confusing the issue here by your non-idiomatic choice of the auxiliary verb to do in these examples (as I said before, something like She has done isn't a meaningful standalone sentence). Try thinking in terms of an ordinary intransitive verb, such as She can't have eaten (speaker is sure that she has had nothing to eat, for whatever reason). Completely different to She can't eat (Past Tense: She couldn't eat), which denies that she is / was able to eat. Jun 6, 2020 at 15:28

2 Answers 2


The phrase "have done" also carries a special meanign of "to be finished with" or "to stop. See this Collins entrty This sense is also used as "have done with", for example "I have done with you. Do not come here again."

So "She hopes to have done." can mean "she hoped to be totally finished." context would be needed to indicate what was being finished or finished with.


"She hoped to do it."

It means she hoped to do it & she did it.

"She hoped to have done it."

Here, the perfect infinitive signifies that she hoped to do it, but she didn't do it.

"She can't have done it"

= It is not possible that she has done it. (Or, I don't believe that she has done it.)


"She couldn't have done it"

= It was not possible for her to do it.

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    1) Why does "She shoped to do" mean she did it? She only hoped but whether she finally did we don't know. 2) As I understand "She hoped to have done" = "She hoped that she had done". It should mean that she did it. Jun 6, 2020 at 17:16

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