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Sentences:

  1. We have been friends up until this moment, but John has just stolen my wallet.

  2. We had been friends up until this moment, but John has just stolen my wallet.

Question:

Sentence #1 says that either we may remain friends or our friendship may end, whereas sentence #2 says that we are no longer friends. Is that interpretation of the bolded tenses correct? Thanks.

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  • 'This' moment licenses 'have' more than 'has just stolen' argues for 'had'. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 16 at 12:59
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In the first sentence there is uncertainity in the speakers' tone about whether he will continue the friendship or not and seems rhetorically interogative as if he is mocking John's act as being silly and unecessary but in a playful way, however, the second sentence shows that the speaker is definite on his decision about ending the frienship.

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  1. John and I have been friends up until this moment, but John has just stolen my wallet.

  2. John and I had been friends up until this moment, but John had just stolen my wallet.

The present perfect refers to an action or state that existed immediately before the words were spoken (and may continue after they are spoken).

The past perfect refers to an action or state that has now finished: it is usual to use the past perfect to provide background and context.

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  • I think you misunderstood the question. The OP definitely wanted has in the second sentence. – Peter Shor Mar 16 at 12:34
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If you want to make it clear that the friendship is over, you should say

We were friends up until this moment.

What you are proposing is a non-standard use of the past perfect, and it is only going to confuse people. Past perfect is used to make it clear that one action takes place before another action; and to put the present perfect into the past, as in the sentence

We had been friends up until that moment, but John's actions were unforgivable,

which implies that John's actions were in the past.

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