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In the 12th episode of the 2nd season of Suits one of the characters said the following.

I want to have talked to everyone of my clients by the end of the day.

That's the first time I've seen the construction want to have done something. I'd like to know what the difference is between I want to do something and I want to have done something. Would the meaning of the sentence change if the character said

I want to talk to everyone of my clients by the end of the day?

I've referred to the grammar books I have and I couldn't find anything addressing the difference between the constructions.

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  • I like the question, and mentioned the source but when I Googled the string "to everyone of my clients by the end of the day" (which is a bit clumsy) only one result turned up.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 24, 2022 at 13:26
  • Are you sure that you transcribed the line correctly?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 24, 2022 at 13:27
  • 1
    Absolutely sure. Here is a link to the transcripts of the episode transcripts.foreverdreaming.org/… Jun 24, 2022 at 13:32
  • Yep, found the show online and listened to Harvey, a lawyer, saying the line around 16 minute mark.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 24, 2022 at 13:44
  • The character is focusing on the achievement of a target ('to have talked') rather than the acts (to talk). Jun 24, 2022 at 14:02

1 Answer 1

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I think the difference in meaning between the two sentences is negligible.
P.S I substituted "everyone of" with "all" for stylistic reasons.

  1. I want to talk to all my clients by the end of the day

The speaker expresses an intention in the present (I want) that refers to an action that is either in progress or is about to start. We know this because of the time expression, “by the end of the day”.

  1. I want to have talked to all my clients by the end of the day.

The speaker uses the perfect infinitive to emphasise the completion of the action at some point in the future. Both sentences are grammatical and carry the same meaning. I don't see any significant difference.

The perfect infinitive can refer to something that will be completed at a point in the future:

We hope to have finished the building works by the end of March.

Source: Cambridge Dictionary

The perfect infinitive can be used without referring to a specific time period and for actions that are repeated. The following excerpt is taken from an article by The Guardian

From the cloth and dyes of a T-shirt to the buttons on jeans, he’s committed to the brand’s holistic approach. “Eventually, when five or six factories have made different component parts of a garment, we want to have visited and checked all of those elements,” he says.

I think in the above situation, the use of the perfect infinitive is preferable because the habitual act of inspecting and checking each piece that goes into the garment began in the past and extends to the present. Note that the co-founder uses the present perfect in “when five or six factories have made different component parts” so the perfect infinitive “to have visited and checked” is euphonious and totally appropriate.

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