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Is it possible to shorten verbs which consist of more than one part when they are used together? For example, from the first sentence to the second below.

I had gone and had seen the city.

I had gone and seen the city.

Which of the two is corrrect?

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Wouldn't it be correct to say "I went and saw the city"? – Jennifer Aug 4 '11 at 17:19
No, because I was referring to either the action which had started and ended in the past as a form of accomplishment, or the action which had been interrupted by something else. E.g. "I had gone and had seen the city, when I fell ill abruptly." where the third verb would be in the past tense. – Shin Aug 4 '11 at 17:33
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Both forms are perfectly valid, and the choice is largely a matter of style.

The first version places slightly more emphasis on the "seeing", so it might be taken to imply the speaker gave more time and attention to sightseeing.

The second version slightly conflates the "going" and "seeing" into a single semantic unit. This might be taken to imply the purpose of going was for sightseeing, an implication which is far weaker in the first version.

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Why is saw not the correct choice here over seen? – Chad Aug 4 '11 at 16:45
Because seen is the past participle, and when you use had as an auxiliary verb, you need to use seen. Even with the implied had, *I had gone and saw the city would be wrong. That would be short for I had gone and I saw the city, the tenses of which don't make any sense. I had arrived, and saw the city does make sense, but I think you need the comma. – Peter Shor Aug 4 '11 at 16:49
@Chad: Because you'd be mixing tenses. If you want to use "saw" you'd normally say "I went and saw the city". – FumbleFingers Aug 4 '11 at 16:51
@Fumblefingers - I guess I just do not like the phrasing of the the sentence in either way your phrasing would be my preference over either of the 2 above. Or something like "I was not there because I had gone to see the city." – Chad Aug 4 '11 at 16:59
Thank you very much. =) – Shin Aug 4 '11 at 17:01

Both sentences are valid, however most English speakers would probably instead say:

I had gone to see the city

I had gone lets the listener know that you are speaking in past tense, and now you can use the unconjugated form of see.

This is similar to Spanish:

Voy a ir la biblioteca.

Can be translated to

I am going (present tense) to go to the library (unconjugated)

Though this is not the case for all sentences, it works well for your example.

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"I had gone to see the city" explicitly says that seeing the city was the purpose of going, but both of OP's originals could be used even if the only reason for going was, say, to deal with some official business. – FumbleFingers Aug 4 '11 at 16:55
Thank you for your reply. I was looking for clarification on how to combine verbs when both are in the perfect tense, but your explanation is certainly useful too. =) – Shin Aug 4 '11 at 17:03

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