I'm having difficulty understanding when to use Past tense and past perfect together. For example:

  1. I had to do that pose because there were no other poses to do.
  2. I did that pose because there were no other poses to do.

Which one is correct? Because of my understanding Past perfect is something that happened before past tense. Example: when i entered the room, she had already left. Which means she had already left before i etered the room. But in the number 1 sentence it feels so right... I don't know. Please help


1 Answer 1


The perfect construction uses have, but always with the past participle of the following verb.

When I entered she had already left the room.
I have done that pose many times.

In your sentence #1, however, have is not used with a past participle but with a 'marked' infinitive (marked, that is, with to):

I had to do that pose ...

This construction is not a perfect but a 'periphrastic modal'—that is, an expression which 'paraphrases' a modal verb (can/could, may/might, must, shall/should, will/would) and has the same meaning. HAVE to VERB means the same thing as must VERB; but HAVE to is much more flexible than must because it HAVE has all the forms of an ordinary verb, where must has only one form.

I must do that pose.

HAVE to in your sentence #1 is cast in the preterite tense, had to, and has past reference. It can also be cast in the non-past tense, with present or future reference:

PRETERITE: I had to do that pose ...
NON-PAST: I have to do that pose ...

It has an infinitive form which can combine with the modal will for future reference, or head an infinitival clause:

MODAL FUTURE: I will have to do that pose ...
INFINITIVAL: I hoped not to have to do that pose any more.

It can be cast as a past participle and employed in a present, past or future perfect construction:

PRESENT PERFECT: I have had to do that pose ...
PAST PERFECT: I had had to do that pose ...

It also has a gerund-participle form, which can be employed adjectivally or in a progressive construction or a gerund clause:

ADJECTIVAL PARTICPLE: Anybody having to do that pose thinks about quitting.
PROGRESSIVE: These days I'm having to do that pose at every session.
GERUND CLAUSE: Having to do that pose was tedious.

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