consider the following sentences:

Don't tell anyone about my first job - I never .............. (fire). I hate being told what to do and I argued with my boss. I was right, but it wasn't worth being fired for.

what verb complement best fills the gap?

expected to be fired?
expected to have been fired?

despite having thought a lot about this, I am yet to find the answer. I can't seem to be able to rationally rule out the second option although I know it sounds wrong.


3 Answers 3


The perfect aspect (generally expressed with "to have" + past participle) implies that an action occurred at an earlier time than an action described without it. This applies to infinitive phrases, too. Thus, "to have been fired" implies that the action occurred earlier than an action described with "to be fired". Because the firing certainly did not occur before the expecting, I would avoid the perfect aspect and go with the first option: "Don't tell anyone about my first job--I never expected to be fired."


expected to be fired is correct. The firing was after your expectations, so never expected to have been fired doesn't make sense.


"I never expected to be fired" is correct.

This sentence means that the firing action was unexpected.

"I never expected to have been fired" is incorrect for this context.

Present perfect structures are present forms, which means they refer to present conditions that are implied by some event in the past. If you have been fired, "being fired" is in the past, and the present condition is that you have no job. So this version of the sentence means something awkward like, "I never expected to not have a job due to getting fired." So the focus is on being unemployed, not the action of firing.

The story is about getting fired, not about being unemployed, so in the context, only the first version is correct.

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