I have a question regarding reporting verbs such as "deny", which are followed by another verb in -ing form.

Direct speech: "I didn't steal the car", said Harry. The action is in the past tense "didn't steal".

So if I transformed this sentence into reported speech should it be "Harry denied stealing the car" or "Harry denied having stolen the car"?

  • 1
    Both your transformations into "reported speech" are fine, but I can't think of any context where the Perfect version (having stolen rather than stealing) usefully adds anything to the meaning, AND it sounds a bit dated / formal to me. So I suggest you don't bother with that one (apart from being prepared to accept it from others). Here's the relevant usage chart. Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


Harry denied stealing the car.

sounds simpler and better to me. You can say

Harry denied having stolen the car

when you want to stress the action and/or you don't know exactly when it happened.

You can also say

Harry denied that he stole the car.

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