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Admitted playing / admitted having played

Posted by GPP on August 14, 2003

In Reply to: Admit having / admit posted by takeda nobuhiro on August 13, 2003

: I am teaching English in Japan.
: A thing I do not understand is:

: What is the difference between the two sentences
: (A) I admitted playing tennis with her.

: (B) I admitted having played tennis with her.

: Both A and B mean "In the past I played tennis with her"

: Does (A) always mean "Sometime in the past a
: I played tennis with her."?

: Does (B) always mean "Continusly I have been playing tennis with her."?

: Thanks in advance.

I would interpret these two constructions just the opposite from the way you've proposed. I'm no grammarian, but (A) is basically a simple past tense, while (B) is a perfect tense, indicating that the action is perfected, completed, no longer ongoing. There's no way to determine from either sentence whether I played tennis with her only once, or many times; but (B) implies there's no expectation of our playing tennis again in the future. On the other hand (unless she's now dead, as might be the case since I have 'admitted' to something), this is not the same as suggesting that we may NOT play tennis again in the future--merely that there is no expectation now of our doing so. (A) carries no such implication either way; it simply says, yes, I played tennis with her--maybe once, maybe over a long period of years, maybe when I was young, maybe up until just a moment ago.

Of course the playing of tennis, if it happened on more than a single occasion, will have been (this "will have been" construction is the future perfect) continual rather than continuous. Continuous means that we never stopped for a break; continual means that we played tennis on several different occasions, more or less regularly.

Also, for what it's worth, my mind was toying with inserting the word 'to' in both of those sentences, but Fowler contradicts that impulse; one confesses to playing, but admits playing, without the 'to'.