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I was talking to the computer guy at our school about my grades, and I came across the following two options:

I hadn't received my grades for one of my courses until last week. But it doesn't seem to be updated in the system yet.

Is it okay, or should it be:

I hadn't received my grades for one of my courses until last week. But it hasn't been updated in the system yet.

At the same time, is there a grammatical difference between the two?

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It's really a matter of style. In the first, you're drawing back from explicitly saying the system definitely hasn't been updated - just that this is how it seems to you. In the second, you're being more positive in your statement, but in this context it's hard to see how anyone would understand what you were saying to mean anything different, either way round. –  FumbleFingers Mar 18 '12 at 1:20
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Your first sentence doesn't seem to fit with your second because its use if "I hadn't... until" implies you want to talk about some time last week. But your second sentence wants to talk about "now". So something along the lines of "Although I received my grade for one of my courses last week, it still doesn't seem to be updated in the system yet." –  Jim Mar 18 '12 at 1:29
    
@Jim- You mean I am using past perfect the wrong way here, or would it be better to use simple past? Thanks for the explanation, though. –  Noah Mar 18 '12 at 1:49
    
"one of my courses" is better than "one my course" –  Henry Mar 18 '12 at 3:23
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@Noah: The past perfect is fine here, although the simple past would be fine, too. –  Peter Shor Mar 18 '12 at 12:19

4 Answers 4

Is it not simpler to say "Although I received my grades last week, the system has not yet been updated". To which the answer might be of course that the computer guy only updates the system once a week.

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That was exactly what I was thinking too! –  Ellie Kesselman Mar 19 '12 at 10:10

The only real difference is that "doesn't seem to" is less definite: it allows for the possibility that the computer guy could say, for example "It has been updated, but the display takes some time to catch up with the processor", without actually contradicting you.

But I have to say a minor point like this may not be the greatest of your grammar problems. If you're actually speaking about the problem, rather than recalling the conversation later, then it should be I didn't receive... rather than I hadn't received...; one of my courses is the proper way of expressing it; my grade for one of my courses is more self-centred that the usual option of the grade for one of my courses or possibly my grade for course XYZ; and if you choose the second option then (assuming you mean the verb rather than the adjective) it should be doesn't seem to have been updated yet. These aren't huge problems, but if you're careless about the use of words your listener can't rely on the normal assumption that each word means what it says. For example, I'm not sure whether this course had several grades (as you say), or just one (which would be usual, in which case you should say the grade not the grades)

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First, you should make this revision:

I hadn't received my grades for one of my courses until last week.

I suggest trying to figure this out without the contractions, then put them back after you know what you want to say.

I had not received my grades for one of my courses until last week. But it does not seem to be updated in the system yet.
versus
I had not received my grades for one of my courses until last week. But it has not been updated in the system yet.

Either past perfect or simple past is acceptable. The first phrasing is more nuanced, as it implies that there is the possibility that the grades had been updated in the system, but you were unable to locate them. That would be a less potentially inflammatory way of inquiring of your computer guy, if you were concerned about social niceties.

The logic for the two sentences is confusing. If I were your computer guy, I would respond to your two questions as follows:

The grade for one of your courses was delayed. You did not receive it until last week. As a result, it has not been updated in the system yet.

In order to avoid such a response, I would ask this question of the computer guy instead:

When will my grade for course ___________ be updated in the system?

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Even with the improvements suggested in other answers:

I hadn't received the grades for one of my courses until last week,

implies you expected your grades before last week, that the receipt of your grades last week was later than expected;

But it doesn't seem to be updated in the system yet,

also seems to be implying an unexpected delay - so why the "but"? This sentence agrees with the preceding one, but "but" is supposed to present a contrast.

You could usefully simplify the first sentence and replace but with and to correctly indicate the two agree; presumably you say your grades were received late to reinforce your assertion about their visibility in the system.


As for the main part of the question, I can either read

it doesn't seem to be updated in the system yet,

as

it doesn't seem to have been updated in the system yet

(treating updated as the past tense of the verb), or as

it doesn't seem to be up-to-date in the system yet

(treating the adjective up-to-date as an approximate synonym)

If I assume the former, both versions of your second sentence are roughly the same apart from the strength of your assertion (is not compared to does not seem).

If I assume the latter, the first version is entirely in the present tense, whereas the second version is a present observation about something that (did not) happen in the past.


That ambiguity, and the awkwardness mentioned at the top of my post, are more significant than the differences between the two versions. Instead of either, I would prefer a construction like

I only received the grades for one of my courses last week, and they are still not visible in the system.

which moves attention to the consequence of interest, and its presumed cause.

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