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My teacher gave me a question

When I (come)______, she (leave)______ for Cali ten minutes ago.

and my job is to complete this sentence with any verb tense provided it makes sense.

My teacher said it must be only one sentence:

When I came, she had left for Cali ten minutes ago.

But I think there are some sentences that make sense: (1) When I came, she left for Cali ten minutes ago. (it means that I came as soon as she left, so we met each other for a very short time, so I could give her the present.

(2) When I came, she had left for Cali ten minutes ago. (It means she left for Cali before I came, so I couldn't met her and give her the present)

(3) When I had came, she left for Cali ten minutes ago. (It means I came before she left some minutes, so we met each other for some minutes, so I could give her the present and talk to her about something.

(4) When I came, she was leaving for Cali ten minutes ago.

Do you think (1), (2), (3) and (4) are correct? If not, please help me fix it.

  • None of those sentences, including the one by your teacher, are very good. Your teacher's version should be 'When I came (better: arrived or got there), she had already left for Cali ten minutes earlier'. Even better is replacing when with By the time. – AmE speaker Jun 1 '17 at 18:32
  • Apart from the fact the sentence is not great anyway, some other points: when I had came is not grammatical (When I had come could be grammatical) and she was leaving ten minutes ago makes no sense in this context. – oerkelens Oct 26 '17 at 21:09
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When I (come)______, she (leave)______ for Cali ten minutes ago.

I think a better sentence would be:

By the time I got there, she had already left for Cali ten minutes before.

But if you have to fill in the blanks, the best I could suggest would be:

When I arrived, she had left for Cali ten minutes ago.

Even that is bad. The word "ago" shouldn't be present, since "ago" refers to a time before "now", not a time before another time.

If you change "ago" to "before", you can get close:

When I arrived, she had left for Cali ten minutes before.

And, btw, no one from California actually calls it Cali.

  • Who said Cali refers to California? There's more to the world than the U S of A... – oerkelens Oct 26 '17 at 21:11
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If you eliminate 'ten minutes ago', the following sentences would be correct:

  1. When I came, she was leaving for Cali (I arrived right when she was leaving so we met for a short time)
  2. When I came, she had left for Cali (I arrived after she had left, so I didn't meet her)
  3. When I came, she left for Cali (she left after I arrived, so we probably had enough time to have a long conversation. It's not specified when exactly she leaves after my arrival)

But since the sentence specifically states the time of her leaving as 'ten minutes ago', the last sentence is incorrect here. But both 1 and 2 are still correct.

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