Page:A Desk-Book of Errors in English.djvu/121

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Errors in English

another past tense, a use often indiscriminately condemned, though sometimes proper and necessary.

(1) Improper construction. Where what was "meant," "intended," or the like was, at the time when intended, some act (as of going, writing, or speaking) future in its purpose and not past, and therefore not to be expressed by a past tense; as, "He meant to have gone" for "He meant to go"; "I meant to have written to you, but forgot it," for "I meant to write," etc.; "I had intended to have spoken to him about it," for "I had intended to speak," etc.; "I should like to have gone," for "I should have liked to go." The infinitive with to expresses the relation of an act as so conceived, so that both analogy and prevalent usage require "meant to go" instead of "meant to have gone." Such construction, although occasional instances of it still occur in works of authors of the highest literary reputation, and still often heard in conversation, is now generally regarded as ungrammatical.

(2) Proper construction. The doubling of the past tenses in connection with the use of have with a past participle is proper and necessary when the completion of the future act was intended before the occurrence of something else mentioned or thought of. Attention to this qualification, which has been overlooked in the criticism of tense-formation and connection, is especially important and imperative. If one says,