My textbook flags the above mentioned phrase as non-finite but it clearly seems to indicate tense. After all, alterations like "have eaten", "have been eating", "have had been eating", "having been about to eat" are possible. So, is the author wrong or am I missing something?

  • 2
    By "embedded clause" I'm assuming you mean to have gone. The to clearly marks an infinitive clause and infinitive clauses are always non-finite.; that's what infinitive means. As to the rest, English only has tense on inflected verbs with subjects; tense has something to do with time, but it is not determined by time -- we can speak about the present, the past, and the future without using any tense at all, and frequently do in English. Infinitives and participles can refer to anything.
    – jlawler
    Dec 24 '17 at 2:20
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    Finite past tense means the same as non-finite "have". So, you and the author are both right. In 1966, T. R. Hofmann gave a formalization of this with a rule "past tense replacement", and McCawley incorporated this into his own analysis in The Syntactic Phenomena of English.
    – Greg Lee
    Dec 24 '17 at 5:32
  • The perfect tense can combine with preterite and present tense but can also occur in clauses without inflectional tense, as in your example.
    – BillJ
    Dec 24 '17 at 17:08
  • There are two embedded non-finite clauses: the infinitival "to have gone", which contains the further embedded past-participial clause "gone" -- the latter functioning as catenative complement of "have".
    – BillJ
    Dec 24 '17 at 17:08
  • @BillJ Presumably, if you're giving a CamGEL style analysis, there are three, no? "to have gone", "have gone" and "gone" Jan 7 '18 at 14:10

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