Thank so much for your help.

I found the following sentence in a newspaper this morning:

"The virus had now been detected in 23 countries in the Americas," she added.

Is the sentence's verb "had now been detected" involved with time from the past to now? Or totally past? It seems to be a very difficult sentence for me:(

  • 1
    Welcome to EL&U. For future questions, I'd like to advise you to visit our sister site English Language Learners, but please make sure you take the tour and visit their Help Center before posting any question. Please don't post the same question on ELL.
    – user140086
    Jan 29, 2016 at 5:33
  • Use capital letters where you should. Once you've copied and pasted something, make sure everything's in the right place. I have no idea what a "he virus" is. And don't use "emoticons," or whatever the f**** they are, please. In other words, do have some respect for those whom you expect to assist you.
    – Ricky
    Jan 29, 2016 at 5:35
  • @Ricky You're the one showing disrespect here. You know better than this.
    – deadrat
    Jan 29, 2016 at 5:41
  • I am sorry for my mistake. It doesn't mean that. I am an English beginner. Really sorry again. Jan 29, 2016 at 5:44
  • @deadrat: Your Grace, I thought I was rising as one, standing up for the high principles and morals of EL&U. Darn, I can't do anything right today. Next round's on me, everyone. Libiamo, libiamo ne'lieti calici ...
    – Ricky
    Jan 29, 2016 at 5:45

1 Answer 1


It is important to get your quotes straight. I believe this is actually from the newspaper The Guardian and is actually a quote plus a paraphrase of the words of Margaret Chan, the director of WHO [World Health Organization], words that she spoke at an emergency meeting:

It was "deeply concerning" that the virus had now been detected in 23 countries in the Americas, she added.

This is report of past speech. We can tell because "added" is past tense. We may infer that Ms. Chan said at the time of the meeting:

"It is deeply concerning that the virus has now been detected in 23 countries in the Americas."

When the newspaper reports on this meeting after it happened, the tenses must be transposed to past time. This is called backshift. The present tense "is" becomes the past tense "was," and the present perfect "has been detected" becomes the past perfect "had been detected."

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