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Past Imperative Tense?
blaisepascal
Do any of the grammar mavens know the proper way (in English) to command someone to have done something?

Obviously, if the time to follow the command is now or in the future, the method is clear: Wash the dishes after dinner tonight. But when the time to follow the command has past, it's not as clear. *Washed the dishes after breakfast this morning, *Have washed the dishes.... What's the grammatical way?

I realise the silliness of ordering someone to have done something. Perhaps the contrafactual nature of the order means there is no grammar to cover it.

But I'm open to suggestions.

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I was confused until I read it twice: "command to have done something."

That's just...strange.

:)

How about "Please make sure you have washed the dishes after breakfast this morning."

I can see that as being a conditional present or future command -- if the dishes aren't washed, wash them.

The situation was more like "Please enjoy your visit with the guest who just left."

The conversation was (paraphrased):

K: J- stopped by unexpectedly.
B: Have fun!
K: He's already left.
B: Um, er, Have had fun!

You've run into what grammarians call a verbal mood. By this, I don't mean it gets depressed. Rather, there are 3 moods: indicative, imperative, and subjunctive. They are derived from the Latin, as opposed to the Germanic, roots in English. The French have a past imperative.

In English, we would use a Future Imperfect Imperative: "You will have eaten dinner by the time I return, young man, or you will feel the backside of my hand." I might say such to my 7 year old son. Of course since he's a good eater, it's not too often a problem. But I digress...

A pure perfect/imperfect imperative doesn't exist in Modern English, and Germanic has no concept of it that I am aware of - and never used in a decade's worth of fluency or near such.

However, as an academic exercise, you could translate such from French: "Aie mangé...!" - implies the future imperfect, but doesn't use it, and we would understand it to be "You will have eaten..." even though the literal translation is "Have eaten...". The "you will" is implicit in French, and explicit in English.

Do I make sense?

Oooo, thanks for your explanation! I posted an answer before reading your comment, and it seems I was on the right track, but I couldn't remember the terminology.

Perhaps, "You will have washed the dishes this morning," although that's really more of an assertion. I think the basic problem is that English is not suited for time travel; the imperative seems to assume cause and effect.

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