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Would like to... & Would have liked to...

The perfect infinitive (have + past participle) is necessary to mark the event as past, but there are two possibilities - both the regret and the event are past, or the event is past but your regret is still present. When you want to make this absolutely clear, then the two forms aren't alternatives but are a necessary choice :
I didn't want to do it at the time, but now I would like to have done it. (present regret about past event)
I would have liked to do it at the time, but now I'm glad I didn't. (Past regret, past action)

However, in the second case you could, from a grammatical point of view ( and should from a logical point of view) also say I would have liked to have done it. as both the regret and the event are past. But it's a form which is rarely heard. Why?

English as a rule hates marking meaning grammatically twice - think for example of the way it avoids double negatives (I don't want any rather than I don't want none) and the almost complete lack of marking of person in verbs. The subject indicates the person so verb inflection is not necessary - it would be a second indication of the same thing. The third person singular is an anomaly in this respect.

In your example, we have to mark the verb phrase as expressing a past event, so we need at least one of the infinitives to be in the perfect form. If we choose the first in order to emphasise that we really wanted to do it at that moment, then the event itself is automatically past - it doesn't need specific grammatical marking. We therefore avoid marking the second as well because of what I've just said about English not liking to express meaning grammatically twice, and leave it other as a base form infinitive. On the other hand, if our regret is present, then it becomes obligatory to put the second infinitive into the perfect.

Despite the actual difference in meaning though, I suspect that the two forms are generally used interchangeably. It's relatively unusual that you wanted to do something at the time, but are now glad you didn't - or vice versa. So unless we are consciously trying to express that precise meaning, I suspect either could pop out.

Category: Problem Points | Added by: Teacher_Koce (2014-07-21)
Views: 758 | Comments: 1 | Tags: bulgarian teacher, english online lessons, Would have liked, Would like
Total comments: 1
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1 Teacher_Koce • 11:57 AM, 2015-03-03
As I teach it:

I would like to go.
I would like to have gone.

Both are spoken from the "present standpoint". The first one however
concerns future preference, the second one expresses our present wish
concerning something that did or didn't happen. The second sentence
equals "I wish I had gone"

Then come the sentences spoken from the "past standpoint":

I would have liked to go.
I would have liked to have bought it.

The fist one expresses our past wish we had "then" and the infinitive "to
go" means that both the wish and what I wished were taking place on the
same time frame. It is the same as saying "I wished I could go" or "I
wished I went", "I wished I were going with them".
The second sentence also expresses past wish, but about something that happened or
didn't happen earlier than the expressed wish. It is the same as saying
"I wished I had bought it"

Hope you find it useful.
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