Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

If I went to a place last night where I needed to show an id, but I forgot to have it on me. So if in the morning I was speaking to a friend(reporting on what happened), which one of the following would be correct:

I had heard that you needed an ID, but I didn't know if it was absolutely necessary

I had heard that you need an ID, but I didn't know if it was absolutely necessary.

I heard that you need an ID, but I didn't know if it was absolutely necessary.

The first one seems correct to me, but I might be wrong. Ideas?

And which one of the following should I say in the context above:

Reporting on what had happened

Reporting on what has happened

Reporting on what happened

share|improve this question
    
    
    
    
@Mohammad: All three "heard" versions are acceptable (the third very slightly less so). For what it's worth, I personally find your "I forgot to have it on me" far more "questionable", in that the forgetting would have happened before you left home, whereas the failure to have it on you only became meaningful at the venue. –  FumbleFingers Jan 15 '12 at 22:12
    
It seems kind of unnecessary wording to me as well. Would you say: I forgot my id. Or I didn't have it on me? How would you say it? –  user17857 Jan 16 '12 at 5:10

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I had heard that you needed an ID, but I didn't know if it was absolutely necessary.

This sentence is correct. It implies that you knew about the necessity of carrying an ID before the events of last night.

I had heard that you need an ID, but I didn't know if it was absolutely necessary.

This is also correct, although some people might say that the use of Present Simple with need doesn't agree with the past perspective. I believe, however, you can use it because in this place the ID is a norm and it is still valid.

I heard that you need an ID, but I didn't know if it was absolutely necessary.

This is correct but not very clear. I heard doesn't show that you knew about the ID beforehand. I prefer the previous two examples.

You are reporting what happened since you have already mentioned that these events took place last night.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 for being right all the way. And another for explaining the difference. –  Kris Jan 16 '12 at 7:40

If you're talking right now about a past event which happened once and you exactly specify when (all this would be your case right now), you are:

Reporting on what happened (last night).

By saying:

(Last night) I heard that you need an ID, but I didn't know if it was absolutely necessary.

The last night parts are there to specify that you're talking about a past event which happened once. You can omit those parts if they're already implied in the text from what you've said before. In your case they are, but I put them to emphasize the fact that they need to be expressed one way or another.


Case 2: When would you say "what had happened?"

You'd use this tense if you were going even further to the past, before a certain event already in the past, like this:

When John entered the room he complained that the towels had been stolen.

As you can see in this example, the first point in the past is "John entering the room" and the second point in the past, which happened before the first point, is "the towels having been stolen."

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks, RiMMER. If I have heard something several times in the past, I should use past perfect in the first sentence, right? Do I need the have part in my comment? –  user17857 Jan 15 '12 at 19:43

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.