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For the following example:

I had seen many beautiful shops in UK, when I was walking down the street years ago.

I'm not sure if the phrase "years ago" at the end of this sentence is correct. Should I put it before the start of the sentence?

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2 Answers

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I'm not sure whether you're asking about the use of the Past Perfect (Had P.P.) or just the position of "years ago" in this question.

It seems to me that the matter of how the Had P.P. was applied is more important.

It would be enough to just say:

"I SAW many beautiful shops in the UK when I was walking down its streets years ago."

The "Had P.P." signals an action that happened even earlier than an already past action. So, your example above could mean:

"I HAD SEEN many beautiful shops in the UK when I was walking down the streets (of Cairo) years ago. So I didn't appreciate Cairo very much."


But of course if you added the Past Action differently in your context, your Had P.P. would be right.

e.g. I didn't enjoy Cairo very much. I HAD SEEN many beautiful shops in the UK when I was walking down its (UK) streets years ago."

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Does it mean that the event of seeing shops came before walking down the steets? –  user963241 Jun 11 '12 at 17:47
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Yes, basically that's what the Had P.P. does. That's why I recommended that you just use Simple Past tense. Either that or make the context clear. As in, "I TOLD my new English friend that I love his country. I had seen many..." –  Cool Elf Jun 12 '12 at 3:25
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Your should add a "the" before UK. Also, change street to streets, unless you are referring to a particular street. You could also try:

  • (Many) years ago, when I was walking down the streets in the UK, I saw many beautiful shops.

  • (Many) years ago, I saw many beautiful shops in the UK when I was walking down the streets.

  • (Many) years ago, I saw many beautiful shops when I was walking down the streets in the UK.

  • When I was walking down the streets in the UK (many) years ago, I saw many beautiful shops.

  • I saw many beautiful shops in the UK when I was walking down the streets (many) years ago.

And I am sure you can think of many such alternatives. (You many consider omitting/replacing one "many" from some sentences above as it sounds awkward - with two "many" close by.)

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"Walking down the street" is a case where the idiom undermines the definite article. It just means you were walking down a street. –  Robusto Jun 8 '12 at 13:46
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@Robusto Couldn't the writer mean: When I was walking down the streets in London, I saw many people wearing colourful socks. –  user20934 Jun 8 '12 at 13:49
    
Could mean that, but doesn't necessarily. "Walking down the street" is the vastly more common idiom. –  Robusto Jun 8 '12 at 14:13
    
@Robusto Neither am I saying that it necessarily means that. That's why, in the very first line I have written unless you are referring to a particular street. –  user20934 Jun 8 '12 at 14:21
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