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Just heard a song "Majestic" and as I am continuously trying to improve my English, I noticed something a bit unclear to me.

A sight for sore eyes
To the blind would be awful majestic
It would be the most beautiful thing
That they ever had seen

Why is there the past perfect tense? Would it work with the present perfect ("have seen"—because they still might see it in the future)?

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closed as off-topic by MrHen, aedia λ, FumbleFingers, dwjohnston, Feral Oink Aug 12 at 0:35

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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about song lyrics. –  JeffSahol Jul 30 '13 at 1:03

2 Answers 2

Try to not look at song lyrics with the same grammatical rigor as other forms of communication. Often, artistry will trump construction; words may be used simply because they make the right sounds for the accompanying music.

In this case, the line "That they ever had seen" is equivalent to "That they ever saw", rather than "That they have not seen". The phrase "ever had seen" is a regional/cultural construction in the US (I unfortunately don't have any references to describe its history).

You could use the present perfect construction "have seen", but I imagine the song needs the extra two syllables in the lyric for rhythm.

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Thanks..with past simple (ever saw) what would it mean? Simply unreal time? –  Liedank Jul 25 '13 at 13:24
    
-1 "That they ever had seen" is not equivalent to "that they ever saw". The difference is along the lines suggested in the question i.e the former is only saying it's the most beautiful thing seen by them up till that point whereas with "ever saw" it could be the most beautiful thing they saw in their whole lives. "Ever had seen" rather than "had ever seen" may be regional but it's also quite a common poetic construction. And I'm not sure why you're mentioning "That they have not seen". –  Rupe Aug 5 at 9:58
    
Well there's a zombie if I've ever seen one. Thanks for the critique Rupe, look forward to your correct answer for the question. –  Matt Aug 5 at 14:39

I think that this is a very widespread mistake.

The past participle is not used unless you are in the passive voice:

She is seen, was seen, will be see, etc

You need to use the past tense for the perfect tense:

I have saw her, had saw her, will have saw her, etc

With that said, artistic license really does give you the right to use colloquial language, even if it is incorrect... creators should at the very least be intending it though...

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This is really unclear. What is the "mistake" that you are saying is common? What are you saying is the correct way to do things? At the moment it looks to me like you're saying that "I have saw her" is good English. –  Rupe Aug 5 at 9:23
    
Yeah, I think so... I have drove / the car is driven - I have flew / the plane is flown - I have saw / what I am looking at is seen ...the past participle is used for the passive tense. –  Petar Ivcec Aug 6 at 13:41
    
I'm sorry, I still don't understand what you're saying. "I have saw her" should be "I have seen her". Similarly "I have flown" and "I have driven". These aren't passive. –  Rupe Aug 6 at 13:55

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