Infinitives and Infinitive Clauses Grammar Index Page

The Perfect Active Infinitive

Forms
As with the perfect active forms of any verb, regular or irregular, the perfect active infinitive is derived from the 3rd principal part of the verb (with the exception of deponent verbs, which have no active Latin form). For example,

Principal parts Add -isse to the stem of the third principal part Perfect active Infinitive translated
fero, ferre, tuli, latus
to carry
tul- + -isse = tulisse to have carried
sum, esse, fui, futurus
to be
fu- + -isse = fuisse to have been
licet, licere, licuit
it is allowed
lic- + -isse = licuisse to have been allowed
do, dare, dedi, datus
to give
ded- + -isse = dedisse to have given
eo, ire, ivi/ii, iturus
to go
iv- + -isse = ivisse
i- + -isse = iisse
to have gone
trado, tradere, tradidi, traditus
to hand over
tradid- + -isse = tradidisse to have handed over

Deponent verbs are simpler. The third principal part of a deponent is a compound of 'sum' and the perfect participle. Replace sum with the infinitive esse to form the perfect infinitive of a deponent. Translate as a perfect active infinitive.

Principal parts Change 'sum' to its infinitive form Perfect infinitive translated
regredior, regredi, regressus sum
to return
regressus esse to have returned
conor, conari, conatus sum
to attempt
conatus esse to have attempted

Translation
The perfect tenses can be translated with some stated or implied form of "have" - I have seen, I had seen, I will have seen. The perfect active infinitive is usually translated as "to have _______." For example,

cepisse - to have seized fecisse - to have done venisse - to have come

Uses
Infinitives, including the Perfect Active Infinitive, can be used as:

  1. A subject of the verb esse - Vidisse Romam erat mirabile. To have seen Rome was wonderful.
  2. A complement of velle, nolle, malle, posse, parare, solere, timere, in animo habere - Voluit tecum venisse sed non poterat. He wanted to have come with you but was not able.
  3. A subject of impersonal verbs or verb phrases - Necesse erat nobis hic cenavisse. To have dined here was necessary for us (more typically in English, 'It was necessary for us to have dined here.').
  4. In indirect statement or discourse - Dixit me tecum venisse. He said that I had come with you. Note: You will not encounter indirect statement until Chapter 46, but this is probably the most significant use of all the different infinitives that you will use.
  5. The Perfect Active Infinitive is used as the base of the pluperfect active subjunctive form - Cum quattuor dies navigavissemus.... After we had been sailing four days.... This construction will be discussed in Chapter 42.

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