2

I've been brushing up on the past perfect tense recently, and after reading the following sentence on a website, I feel like it's missing a key element:

"Many progressives, who thought well of Wilson's dream of a new world order, drew back in revulsion when the terms of the treaty were published."

Shouldn't there be a had after who?

  • You should check out the back-shift 'tag' on the site. – user73373 Jul 17 '14 at 4:54
2

The Past Perfect expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past. It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past.

Emma had never seen an R-rated movie until she was 16.

In the above, the past perfect refers to something that happened before something else in the past.

Many progressives, who thought well of Wilson's dream of a new world order, drew back in revulsion when the terms of the treaty were published.

Your example doesn't describe such a scenario. It doesn't say that the progressives changed their way of thinking; it only says that they drew back in revulsion at the terms of the treaty. The who thought well of Wilson's dream of a new world order, describes the progressives. It seems to me to be akin to:

The progressives, who were liberally inclined, were horrified by the terms of the treaty.

  • "Many progressives drew back in revulsion when the terms of the treaty were published. Before its publishing, they had thought well of Wilson's dream of a new world order." Is that correct? – Pedanticpoet22 Jul 17 '14 at 5:26
  • I'm not sure, because I don't have the context. Before and after specifically obviate the need for past perfect. However, I think my analysis stands on it's own. Maybe someone else will have a better answer. :) – anongoodnurse Jul 17 '14 at 5:38
  • You need to bear in mind that "Wilson's dream of a new world order" is not the same thing as "the treaty". People may like the former and dislike the latter, so this sentence is not saying anything about a change to how they thought about Wilson's dream. It says they liked his dream and didn't like the treaty (which is perhaps what his dream turned into, after various compromises etc). – Max Williams Jun 2 '16 at 15:00
  • It's like saying "Some people, who liked apples, didn't like the apple pie". – Max Williams Jun 2 '16 at 15:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.