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This is an example sentence demonstrating the usage of past perfect:

I checked with the supplier and they still hadn't received the contract.

In this case the timeline rule works out as it should. Now, if I modify the sentence a little bit.

I had just checked with the supplier and they still haven't received the contract.

Is the second sentence grammatically correct? If so, which one of these would one say as verbally pleasant?

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Your first sentence is indeed grammatical, but the second sentence is not.

If you had just checked, that act of checking occurred prior to another past event, and no such other past event is identified in this second sentence. (Of course, the other past event could be identified earlier in the same text.) But the use of Present Perfect in the second clause (haven't received) is ungrammatical here, because the Present Perfect needs to connect to the present, whereas your second sentence, with its Past Perfect first clause and the implied reference to a later--but still past--time, keeps everything connected in the past, not to the present.

The grammatically correct version of your second sentence would be I have just checked with the supplier and they still haven't received the contract.

Your first sentence is focused on the relationship between the 2 events in the past, and my revised version of the second is focused on the connection between the past event in the first clause and the present result/relevance in the second clause.

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Thanks. Now ,the usage makes complete sense to me. Is it right to say " I checked with the supplier and they still haven't received the contract." Does the Present Perfect link to the Present in this case ? –  BottledBrick Feb 17 '13 at 12:19
    
@user1471: If you leave out the "just" (I can't tell whether that was intentional or unintentional in the question in your comment), "I checked with the supplier and they still haven't received the contract" is fine English, even following strict grammatical rules. –  Peter Shor Feb 17 '13 at 14:34
    
@StoneyB: I have great difficulty believing even the most extreme pedant could find any reason for saying there's something "not quite right" about "I just checked and it's still raining", for example. On what grounds? How is the construction any different to "I ate two Big Macs, but I'm still hungry"? Is that "a venial error" too? –  FumbleFingers Feb 17 '13 at 17:53
    
@StoneyB: I'm still not with it. How does the presence or absence of "just" affect the grammaticality of the tenses? Should I always say "I have just done it", rather than "I just did it"? –  FumbleFingers Feb 17 '13 at 18:09
    
@FumbleFingers Not the grammaticality, but the 'rightness'. It depends on the remoteness of the reference in checked. I checked with the supplier this morning is one thing; I checked with the supplier yesterday another; and I checked with the supplier last week quite another. At what point must you shift have to had? –  StoneyB Feb 17 '13 at 18:15
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The first one is what's likely to be said most of the time. The second one is correct, but 'had' puts it into past tense, whereas 'I checked' means it's still present tense.

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