tense & meaning 2
Would you please tell me if the following sentences are correct and if yes, what's the difference between them?
a) I smoked forty cigarettes a day till / before I gave up. (= past habit ?)
b) I had smoked forty cigarettes a day until I gave up. (= past occurrence before another one in the past?)
a) After the will had been read, there were angry exclamations. (= a long time after, consecutive ?)
b) After the will was read, there were angry exclamations.
(= immediately after, nearly simultaneous ?)
Thank you very much indeed,
Last edited by hela; 14-Jan-2005 at 12:48.
Re: tense & meaning 2
'after' and 'before' express the same type of time sequence that past perfect 'had' expresses. They tells us two events took place, and that those events are connected in time, one having taken place before the other. So, speakers tend to merge the past perfect with the simple past in those contexts:
Originally Posted by hela
I smoked forty cigarettes a day before I gave the habit up.
There were angry exclamations after the will was read.
The underlined portions represent the events that happened first. Note the scope: 'before' heads 'I gave the habit up', but its semantic contribution is to tell us the event 'I smoked forty cigarettes a day' happened first. 'after' heads 'the will was read, and its semantic contribution is to tell us 'the will was read' happened first.
Both 'after' and 'before', as well as 'had' share the same semantic function. They connect two events in time, which means 'had' is pretty much redundant in those contexts, and the reason the simple past is used.
Re: tense & meaning 2
Would you please tell me if my analyses are correct ?
1) a) As/While a student / When he was student he had known great poverty.
b)When he had been a student he had known great poverty.
the justification I tried to find for the use of the past perfect in these clauses is that the past perfect, like the present perfect, could relate two moment in time together, i.e., they express duration:
the present perfect = from past to present
the past perfect = from earlier past to nearer past
so this is may be why we can use the past perfect in both clauses but not in the following b):
2) a) He had started learning the piano when he was seven. (OK)
b) He had started learning the piano when he HAD BEEN seven.
since "the age of seven" is a point in time and not a duration.
a) He used to go through his mail while he was having breakfast.
b) He used to go through his mail when he had breakfast.
- Are WHILE normally followed by the progressive aspect and When normally followed the simple aspect ?
- Are the two actions in BOTH sentences simultaneous ?
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