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Questions tagged [past-perfect]

Questions about Past Perfect tense

22
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7answers
103k views

What does “had had” mean? How does this differ from “had”?

For example, what is the difference between the following two sentences: I had a bad day I had had a bad day
12
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2answers
651k views

When do we use “had had” and “have had”? [duplicate]

I have seen several sentences in English where some writers have written had twice in a row. I am a bit confused about when the grammar calls for using had had. For example: I had had my car ...
12
votes
2answers
24k views

Why do people sometimes use the past perfect form of a verb when the past would suffice? (e.g. “you had mentioned”)

I noticed that my American friends tend to use the past perfect form when they use the verb mention in its past form, almost despite of the context of the sentence. I hear them say "you had mentioned"...
9
votes
8answers
51k views

Is this correct: “I'd have to have had…”

This sentence makes my head hurt a bit, and it doesn't seem right, but perhaps you guys could help me sort it out. "If I would've gone to Canada, I'd have to have had some kind of winter gear."
9
votes
1answer
2k views

“You were already having been going to do that!”

From one of the Futurama episodes: Farnsworth A: You people and your slight differences disgust me. I'm going home. Where's that blue box with our universe in it? Farnsworth 1: Oh, you'...
9
votes
4answers
4k views

Usage of 'had been' or 'were'

I was doing an exercise. I completed the sentence as following. If you were my child, I would have demanded that such an irresponsible teacher be fired. But the answer given in the book is ...
8
votes
3answers
598 views

What difference does using 'had' make to those two verb tenses, and if so, what is it?

What is the difference between if I had studied and if I studied? Can you provide an example of when one usage would be more appropriate than the other?
7
votes
5answers
37k views

“hadn't thought” vs. “didn't think”

Which is correct? It was late and I was trying to do your package quickly and hadn't thought that I could put everything together. or It was late and I was trying to do your package quickly and ...
6
votes
2answers
761 views

Odd British pluperfect subjunctive construction?

I read this sentence in the Guardian today, and I couldn't figure out if it was an error or a regionalism. (I did, however, figure out that I don't know my grammar too well!) [the mid-18th century] ...
6
votes
2answers
6k views

“Would fly” versus “would have flown”

I am not a native speaker of English. Could anyone please tell me which sentence is correct? If I had money, I would fly to Spain. If I had money, I would have flown to Spain.
6
votes
4answers
589 views

Why does this conditional feel wrong?

The following phrase is part of a narrative in past tense. My mind has been going in circles around it, so any help would be appreciated. He sighed and replied quickly, as if he had had only a few ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Changing usage of past-perfect constructions in American and British usage

I notice a great many American speakers using the construction had loved as a preterite, that is, a simple past tense. I also hear the simple past tense used in instances in which I was taught to use ...
6
votes
1answer
6k views

Speculative conditional: Why does it use the past tense or past perfect tense?

We use simple past to state a hypothetical present situation that we would like to speculate about (If they were here, I would be happy), past perfect for a hypothetical past (had they been here, I ...
6
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4answers
2k views

The use of present perfect on someone who has passed away

The late Dr. Francis was a compassionate doctor who __________ his life to helping the poor. This is a question in an exam paper and the correct answer is: has dedicated. Can anybody explain why '...
5
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4answers
1k views

“I left before they had decided what to do” Why is 'decided' in the past perfect?

I left before they had decided what to do. Is this because this is a past version of "I leave before they have decided what to do"? Because "left" doesn't come before "decided".
5
votes
3answers
75k views

When should I choose “had come” over “came” in the following sentence?

Take for example: I met Raschel three years ago. He represented a small company of which he was also the proprietor. He came to show the presentation of his product plan. Many companies, ...
5
votes
5answers
296 views

Right tense for conditional event in nondescript time?

What is the right tense to describe an event that might have occured, be occuring or occur in the future, if (not) for something that happened in the past? Unike, in the examples, which anchor the ...
5
votes
1answer
234 views

How are computers affecting spelling and usage? [closed]

Has spell check changed usage? I type the word "theatre" often; even here while I am typing it is underlined in red, yet Americans who direct, produce, or act in theatre prefer the older spelling. ...
5
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4answers
261 views

Can I separate events with period to form past perfect?

Can I say the following? The doorbell rang. He had finished his meal. I know I could join the sentences into one sentence to get the same meaning. I want to know if this would be correct if I ...
4
votes
5answers
19k views

“Would have had to have been” vs “would have had to be” for past event conditions

I instinctively said I would have had to have been over 180 lbs for that to have happened. I thought that seemed overly wordy. Too many "have"s and "had"s. So I tried: I would have had to be ...
4
votes
3answers
12k views

“I had thought there was” Vs. “I thought there was”

What's the difference between these sentences: I had thought there was something wrong with the tape recorder. I thought there was something wrong with the tape recorder. Would it be more ...
4
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3answers
33k views

Use didn't leave yet, or haven't left yet? Can we use ''YET'' in past tense or not? [closed]

My knowledge of English grammar is very basic. I learned English mostly from movies and a lot of times I choose a specific way to say something in English based on intuition or the feeling that it ...
4
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2answers
5k views

Can “would rather” be followed with a past perfect?

Can "would rather" be followed with a past perfect? Can it be used to express a regret, a wish the past had been different? Example taken from First Certificate Language Practice by Michael Vince, ...
4
votes
1answer
14k views

using had had in a sentence [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What does “had had” mean? How does this differ from “had”? I had had so many interruptions this morning that I scarcely had done any work or I had ...
4
votes
4answers
651 views

What should be the right tense in this sentence?

I read this sentence in a book recently: What I should have done is given him the... (Emphasis mine) I'm not a linguist but I thought it should be: What I should have done is give ...
3
votes
3answers
23k views

past perfect + would have + ed-participle / past simple + would + infinitive

Could you clarify difference between sentences: If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses If I asked people what they wanted, they would say faster horses ...
3
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5answers
13k views

“I knew him for…” or “I had known him for…”?

I'm writing a short story, and I'm unsure about the right tense to use. The first two sentences are: I knew Mr. Brown for exactly 15 minutes. He had met me at the entrance and was now ...
3
votes
2answers
12k views

“Until” and past perfect

Having seen one sentence in "Practical English Usage" by M.Swan (a very popular grammar book), I was really puzzled. I waited until the rain had stopped. The past perfect is generally used to show ...
3
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3answers
2k views

Correct tense for events which happend long time ago but still have direct connection with present time

Suppose that a man disappeared twenty years ago and I haven't had a notice about him since then. What should I say to my interlocutor if I want to tell him about this story? You know, Harry has ...
3
votes
2answers
380 views

Perfect tenses in conditionals

Why does one sometimes use the perfect tense in conditions of the first type? Say, I will do something if you have done something. I did something when he had done something. instead of, I ...
3
votes
3answers
6k views

Should the past perfect be eschewed?

The past perfect serves a purpose: When describing things that happened in the past, it allows us to discuss things that happened before (i.e., in the past’s past). However, a procession of had, had, ...
3
votes
1answer
261 views

Past perfect simple - strange usage

By definition, past perfect simple tense "expresses an action taking place before a certain time in the past". I have a hard time to understand why Terry Pratchett used it in the sentence: "The ...
3
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2answers
3k views

Past perfect sentence in “I would have killed the snake if I had hit him…”

Is the following a correct past perfect sentence? I would have killed the snake if I had hit him hard with a stick.
3
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5answers
993 views

“hadn't have killed” vs “hadn't killed”

Can someone help? "Dave killed Peter." Dave asked Susan, "why was Peter here?" Susan said, "Maybe he would have told you if you hadn't have killed him." Would there have been any difference if she ...
3
votes
1answer
48k views

Hadn't seen vs Haven't seen

Please can you tell me which is correct - haven't or hadn't? Situation: I send picture to my friend and she replies: "I hadn't seen it yet" Is it right use? Shouldn't be there "I haven't seen it ...
3
votes
1answer
25k views

had not vs did not - past perfect [closed]

I recently watched a YouTube tutorial which talks about right usage of past perfect tense. For negative sentences in past perfect, a simple rule to frame sentences is - Subject + hadn't + main verb ...
3
votes
3answers
426 views

Structural Ambiguity in Past Perfect Tense Usage

As we all know, the past perfect tense is used to indicate an action that takes place before another one. I ran across this article on The New York Times website today, which begins with these ...
3
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1answer
607 views

Past Perfect and Past Simple in AmE

I've recently been told that Past Perfect and Past Simple tenses are interchangeable in AmE. I know that it is possible to use the Past Simple tense instead of the Present Perfect one in AmE but have ...
3
votes
1answer
224 views

simple past vs past perfect

I'm studying English and I want to ask about a sentence from my book: For myself I kept a solitary piece of china, one of the few remaining plates from the set my grandfather bought my mother for ...
3
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5answers
1k views

Past Perfect - Right or Wrong?

I am in an English course, in Cambridge School, in Lisbon, Portugal, and I am learning Past Perfect. I am also in a Pastry course, and today we had our first English lesson. The teacher wrote some ...
3
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2answers
918 views

Should “If I ever had a philosophy” be in the past perfect?

Excerpted from The Hills of Triumph: If I ever had a philosophy with which to govern my social life, even long after learning that social is often at the detriment of personal, it would have been ...
3
votes
1answer
34k views

When to use 'had been' + past participle of the verb

I read the sentence below in a news article: "The couple had been engaged since the summer," her spokeswoman said in a statement. Why was "had been engaged" used in this sentence. Is it wrong to ...
3
votes
1answer
190 views

American dialects: Replacing the past-perfect participle with the simple-past form

I have come across some American media (The Alternate History Hub youtube channel comes to mind) in which the perfect participle and the simple-past form have been merged. For example, we would have: ...
3
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1answer
150 views

Can the Past Perfect be substituted with past simple + time reference only with state verbs?

As an English teacher, I often find students unclear about the use of the past perfect. It seems that this is sometimes optional if there is a time reference. I take both these sentences to be correct ...
3
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0answers
465 views

Past Perfect and Until

In the book which I use to prepare for the IELTS exam they have the following sentence: The situation remained unchanged for the next two years until more universities were opened. I do not ...
3
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2answers
7k views

Past perfect or simple past with 'ago'?

As a non-native speaker but a teacher of the English language I've come across the following question reading a pupil's report: Should she use the simple past or past perfect in her sentence? Last ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

How do I distinguish simple past and past perfect with “should”?

One type of construction that has always bugged me is the distinction between should (past tense of shall), and its past perfect form. Assume a character, let's call him John: He lost the poker ...
3
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2answers
8k views

“I had been typing” vs “I was typing” vs “I typed”

I read this on a another forum but couldn't figure out the logic behind the answers. He had been typing for three hours before he realised that he had typed the wrong documents. He had been ...
3
votes
1answer
486 views

“had better never have been born”

In Conan Doyle's The Greek Interpreter, a character says "If ... you had better never have been born". This sounds fine to my ear, but I believe "had have been" is generally considered incorrect. If ...
3
votes
1answer
298k views

“have been” versus “had been” in questions [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do the tenses in English correspond temporally to one another? "I can tell that he's not English, but I wouldn't had been able to tell that he's french if you didn't tell ...