having stolen vs stealing

taraa

Senior Member
Persian
Can you please explain the difference between #1 and #2?
1. They admitted having stolen the money.
2. They admitted stealing the money.
English Grammar in Use, Murphy
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Admit is being used transitively, so in both cases the words after the verb form a noun phrase. Version 2 uses the simple gerund “stealing”. Version 1 uses the perfect gerund, “having stolen”, which denotes completion of the act of stealing. However, the context tells us that the stealing is in the past anyway, so both versions mean the same: I stole the money. I admit it.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Admit is being used transitively, so in both cases the words after the verb form a noun phrase. Version 2 uses the simple gerund “stealing”. Version 1 uses the perfect gerund, “having stolen”, which denotes completion of the act of stealing. However, the context tells us that the stealing is in the past anyway, so both versions mean the same: I stole the money. I admit it.
    Thank you lingobingo :)
    Sorry When one admit an action I think it means the action was completed. No?
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, that's what they do mean.
    We know/understand the 'time/tense' reference because the main verb 'admitted' is in the past. It's not usually necessary to emphasise the 'perfect' (finished)/past/complete aspect by using the perfect participle 'having done' construction. It is redundant.

    Anything redundant and unnecessary tends to spoil style so long as the meaning is clear without it. This 'present perfect participle' is a good example of a grammatically valid construction that needs to be avoided if possible.
    I have the 1985 edition of Murphy's book. On page 106, Unit 53, talking about constructions after 'admit' he comments in 'b)'
    "When you are talking about finished actions you can also say 'having done/...'. But it is not necessary to use this form. You can also use the simple '-ing form' for finished actions."

    I strongly advise against using the 'perfect participle' construction unless there is no alternative: there usually is far better.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Sorry When one admit an action I think it means the action was completed. No?
    That was a trick question, wasn't it? And you had already prepared this one:
    So both "having stolen" and "stealing" both should mean completion of the act of stealing , right?
    No, that is not so. No "-ing" form can indicate a completed action. Regardless of the tense, the "-ing" form reflects an uncompleted action at the time referred to.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Yes, that's what they do mean.
    We know/understand the 'time/tense' reference because the main verb 'admitted' is in the past. It's not usually necessary to emphasise the 'perfect' (finished)/past/complete aspect by using the perfect participle 'having done' construction. It is redundant.

    Anything redundant and unnecessary tends to spoil style so long as the meaning is clear without it. This 'present perfect participle' is a good example of a grammatically valid construction that needs to be avoided if possible.
    I have the 1985 edition of Murphy's book. On page 106, Unit 53, talking about constructions after 'admit' he comments in 'b)'
    "When you are talking about finished actions you can also say 'having done/...'. But it is not necessary to use this form. You can also use the simple '-ing form' for finished actions."

    I strongly advise against using the 'perfect participle' construction unless there is no alternative: there usually is far better.
    Thank you Hermione for your help!!
    No, that is not so. No "-ing" form can indicate a completed action. Regardless of the tense, the "-ing" form reflects an uncompleted action at the time referred to.
    Thank you PaulQ!!
    Can you please write an example for that?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    How can "stealing" be an incomplete action in it?
    The "ing form" speaks of an action that was still in progress at the time referred to.

    "They admitted stealing the money". To steal the money, they had to prepare the crime, go to the place where the money was, enter the building, open the safe, and then take the money. They then had to leave the building with the money and escape.

    The stealing occurred when they put their hand in the safe and were in the process of removing the money.

    They stole the money refers to more or less the entire set of actions as a whole - from the very start to the very finish.

    All simple forms of the verb indicate an action as a whole - from start to finish.
    The simple form of the verb can indicate a habitual or regular action that
    (i) is/was/will be complete/completed each time it is undertaken. ->
    A: What do you do to keep fit?
    B: I ride a bike. -> “ride” includes everything from getting on the bike at the start of the journey to getting off the bike at the end.

    Or
    (ii) a single, complete or completed present, future, or past action:
    He told me that I had to visit the Eiffel Tower, so I go/went/will go to Paris on Wednesday” -> “go/went/will go” includes everything from the decision being made, bags being packed, going to the airport, etc., to the arrival in Paris.

    The continuous form of the verb indicates
    (i) an action that is/was incomplete and in progress at the time that is being referred to (it has started but it has not yet finished) ->
    I will be/am/was/have been/had been riding a bike = I will be/am/was/have been/had been in the process of riding a bike but have not yet finished riding the bike at the time I am referring to.

    The continuous form used to be known as “the imperfect”: It was called “imperfect” because the action had not been “perfected” i.e. it had not finished.

    OED 5. Grammar. Applied to a tense which denotes action going on but not completed; usually [edit Q- but not always] to the past tense of incomplete or progressive action.

    1871 H. J. Roby Gram. Latin Lang. §549 Three [tenses] denoting incomplete action; the Present, Future, and Imperfect (sometimes called respectively, present imperfect, future imperfect, past imperfect).
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    The "ing form" speaks of an action that was still in progress at the time referred to.

    "They admitted stealing the money". To steal the money, they had to prepare the crime, go to the place where the money was, enter the building, open the safe, and then take the money. They then had to leave the building with the money and escape.

    The stealing occurred when they put their hand in the safe and were in the process of removing the money.

    They stole the money refers to more or less the entire set of actions as a whole - from the very start to the very finish.

    All simple forms of the verb indicate an action as a whole - from start to finish.
    The simple form of the verb can indicate a habitual or regular action that
    (i) is/was/will be complete/completed each time it is undertaken. ->
    A: What do you do to keep fit?
    B: I ride a bike. -> “ride” includes everything from getting on the bike at the start of the journey to getting off the bike at the end.

    Or
    (ii) a single, complete or completed present, future, or past action:
    He told me that I had to visit the Eiffel Tower, so I go/went/will go to Paris on Wednesday” -> “go/went/will go” includes everything from the decision being made, bags being packed, going to the airport, etc., to the arrival in Paris.

    The continuous form of the verb indicates
    (i) an action that is/was incomplete and in progress at the time that is being referred to (it has started but it has not yet finished) ->
    I will be/am/was/have been/had been riding a bike = I will be/am/was/have been/had been in the process of riding a bike but have not yet finished riding the bike at the time I am referring to.

    The continuous form used to be known as “the imperfect”: It was called “imperfect” because the action had not been “perfected” i.e. it had not finished.

    OED 5. Grammar. Applied to a tense which denotes action going on but not completed; usually [edit Q- but not always] to the past tense of incomplete or progressive action.

    1871 H. J. Roby Gram. Latin Lang. §549 Three [tenses] denoting incomplete action; the Present, Future, and Imperfect (sometimes called respectively, present imperfect, future imperfect, past imperfect).
    Thank you so much PaulQ for the good explanation :)
     
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