When talking about people in the past, I've seen many online entries use "is known to" with "have" like:

"William Shakespeare is known to have performed his own plays."

Can it be written like this:

"William Shakespeare is known to perform his own plays."

  • 4
    The second one suggests that The Bard is still performing, but we know that is not the case. – Weather Vane Jan 18 at 20:13

Without using "have" one could write:

William Shakespeare was known to perform his own plays.

We use "was" rather than "is" because this event is in the past, quite a while in the past in this case.

The form "is known to have" is talking about the current state of knowledge, not the current performances. The use of "have" indicts that the performance are in the past, although it could be the recent past.

David Siegel is known to have made typos on Stack Exchange.

The event is currently known, and is in the past, although in this case the very recent past.

  • 2
    Do people mean 'perform in his own plays? – Michael Harvey Jan 18 at 20:30
  • 1
    @Michael Harvey That could mean "perform in", or "produce", or "direct", or perhaps "put on". All of these would be true. But I thi8nk the sense of "put on" is what is meant here. – David Siegel Jan 19 at 1:34
  • 1
    It's an unusual usage bordering on an error. – Michael Harvey Jan 19 at 6:56

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.