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Thread: I thought I had

  1. #21
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    Default Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    Do you really think that this particular collocation is going to make it into FWE, Kon?

    But allowing that it might, by what standard, what reasoning do you say that only the past perfect is "correct"?

    Exact phrase Google Scholar search

    "I thought I replied"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 61.

    "I thought I had replied"
    Results 1 - 2 of 2.
    That's a good question.

    Taking such a stance as this simply provides English language learners with an undue burden that native speakers of English do not carry. Thinking that one is somehow out of line with "correct language" for not using the past perfect in the example sentence in question is not practical.

  2. #22
    albeit is offline Banned
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    Default Re: I thought I had

    Originally Posted by konungursvia
    'I thought I replied' is common in speech, so no one can call it wrong. Having said that, when you are attempting to use written English correctly, you must write "I thought I had replied" in this case. The others are not correct in terms of the norms of formal written English. Only in vernacular spoken English.

    ===================

    Hi again, Kon. I just wanted to add one more thing. It seems to me that a suggestion that some structure must be used for FWE/SWE and others forsaken, takes away from those writers the opportunity to say what they may want to say in English.

    Just because someone compares two similar collocations, finds one to be more formal and then pronounces that that's the only allowable one for SWE/FWE is to my mind an untenable situation.

    Again, this isn't a collocation that would find great use in SWE but regardless, if I'm writing to someone and I don't feel that greater formality is due them, I'm certainly not going to opt for the past perfect.

    I just can't understand why you would it think it appropriate/a good thing to tie the hands of writers by excluding certain structures/collocations.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    ... Thinking that one is somehow out of line with "correct language" for not using the past perfect in the example sentence in question is not practical.
    Clearly, there are structures/collocations suitable for the different registers but I'm highly sceptical that this has any application in this situation. I'll reserve judgment until Kon provides his explanation.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    Clearly, there are structures/collocations suitable for the different registers but I'm highly sceptical that this has any application in this situation. I'll reserve judgment until Kon provides his explanation.
    The application it could have is that a particular form is preferable to someone for some reason, and that reason could be the somewhat more formal tone that can possibly be created by using "had replied" in place of "replied". However, this is not to say that "had replied" really would sound more "formal". "Formal" and "informal" can be rather arbitrary and strange labels in English language learning and teaching sometimes.


    When given a choice between simple and perfect, the perfect verb forms can sound more formal to me, not that this is all the time or any time for that matter. And, of course, this doesn't have any bearing on whether or not one or the other is correct in the sentence posted by the lycen. So whereas past perfect may sound more "formal", perhaps, it may turn out to be one's preference for "classroom English", but, once again, this doesn't mean that "I thought I had replied" is correct" and "I thought I replied" is any less correct - or that the latter needs to be associated only with spoken language.

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    Default Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    Do you really think that this particular collocation is going to make it into FWE, Kon?

    But allowing that it might, by what standard, what reasoning do you say that only the past perfect is "correct"?

    Exact phrase Google Scholar search

    "I thought I replied"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 61.

    "I thought I had replied"
    Results 1 - 2 of 2.
    I don't believe "collocation" is an applicable term when speaking of which form of a verb to use. The phrase "I had replied" as the past perfect, and as it relates to verbs and grammar, isn't explained by collocation. However, it could be that one's definition of collocation is different.

  6. #26
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    Default Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    What you are referring to is the past perfect. The term pluperfect is rather antiquated, I would say.

    The "past perfect" is not a tense. It's an aspect of the past, or a way in which we can talk about the past in a specifc way.
    You did indeed say that the term pluperfect is antiquated, and that it is now called the past perfect, and that it is not a tense. I think you had forgotten, since you wrote above to our OP that you hadn't made that statement, after he or she went to the trouble of verifying it.

    In any case, a linguistic debate is good fun, isn't it?

    What I really mean by '"in that case" the OP needs to use the pluperfect' is this: when the state of affairs in question includes three times (present, past 1, and past 2) and when one of them takes place just moments before the present (the 'uh-oh, I thought' moment) and the other past moment is well before that (last week-end's attempted e-mail reply) then I don't think it's anything more than a colloquial eliding of the facts to use the phrase 'I thought I replied,' because it simplifies the time line to the point of amalgamating all past moments into one. In such cases, I think it's an imprecise, almost 'lazy' approximation to write it in that way. "I thought I had replied," on the other hand, correctly accounts for the temporal dimensions of the state of affairs as it actually unfolded. The "uh-oh" moment is accurately portrayed as a recollection of a previous attempt to reply, that was significantly before that "uh-oh" moment. It also shows that the speaker was for some time convinced that the response had been previously sent.

    So, if you compare an approximation that is unlikely to be misunderstood only because logically you can't think you replied before you try to do so, on the one hand, and on the other hand we have an expression that explicitly accounts for the facts in a complete and unambiguous way, I think we can observe a differing value judgment regarding the relative correctness of the two, in terms of the norms of written English, which are themselves more conservative, more universal and more international than any one vernacular.

    I just felt that given a learner who had been reading a textbook explaining the use of the pluperfect, we ought then to have used the textbook's standard of written English when discussing normative correctness, rather than troubling the student with opinions about whether more recent or more local standards should now replace those of the textbook.

    To summarize, "I thought I replied" I am still convinced is an oral approximation rather than an equally well constructed alternative to "I thought I had replied" if we are talking about the sequence of events I described above.

    I am sorry if my love for such linguistic debates has detracted from anyone's pleasure at using the forum.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    Originally Posted by konungursvia
    'I thought I replied' is common in speech, so no one can call it wrong. Having said that, when you are attempting to use written English correctly, you must write "I thought I had replied" in this case. The others are not correct in terms of the norms of formal written English. Only in vernacular spoken English.

    ===================

    Hi again, Kon. I just wanted to add one more thing. It seems to me that a suggestion that some structure must be used for FWE/SWE and others forsaken, takes away from those writers the opportunity to say what they may want to say in English.

    Just because someone compares two similar collocations, finds one to be more formal and then pronounces that that's the only allowable one for SWE/FWE is to my mind an untenable situation.

    Again, this isn't a collocation that would find great use in SWE but regardless, if I'm writing to someone and I don't feel that greater formality is due them, I'm certainly not going to opt for the past perfect.

    I just can't understand why you would it think it appropriate/a good thing to tie the hands of writers by excluding certain structures/collocations.
    A valid argument, and if we were three English professors at Ohio State talking about another Ohio native and his wish to use a certain phrase, I might take a looser position.

    But in this case we're not simply dealing with the "freedom" of "a writer" -- let them do what they like -- but a student of English who is specifically endeavouring to attain a thorough understanding of our grammatical norms. He or she is no doubt aware, as an adult learner, of the differences between spoken and written norms; but, textbook in hand, and asking us for elucidation of the norms it describes, he or she isn't helped much but rather becomes confused if we have educated native speakers saying something else, for different reasons, according to a different standard of norms. Pedagogy (or andragogy) suggests we help the learner attain the norms he or she seeks, before advising him or her to break the rules.

    When you learn the violin, you are taught how to hold the bow 'properly' for weeks and weeks. Go learn the fiddle and play Swing later on, but you'll never play classical music if you hold the bow however it first strikes you to do so.

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    Default Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    Do you really think that this particular collocation is going to make it into FWE, Kon?

    But allowing that it might, by what standard, what reasoning do you say that only the past perfect is "correct"?

    Exact phrase Google Scholar search

    "I thought I replied"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 61.

    "I thought I had replied"
    Results 1 - 2 of 2.
    Actually, if you look carefully, many of the entries have "..I thought, I replied.." which is not the same. Google search is not perfect.

  9. #29
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    Default Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    You did indeed say that the term pluperfect is antiquated, and that it is now called the past perfect ...

    In any case, a linguistic debate is good fun, isn't it?
    Yes, and I have not denied saying that it is antiquated and that past perfect is more relevant. Yes, to me, it's not a tense. It's easier to deal with two tenses and their aspects, or to deal with types of present and types of past.

    Yes, it's good fun.
    Last edited by PROESL; 21-Sep-2009 at 15:36.

  10. #30
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    Default Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by lycen View Post
    Actually, if you look carefully, many of the entries have "..I thought, I replied.." which is not the same. Google search is not perfect.
    Yes, good point, in my long-winded reply I forgot to include those examples, which go something like this: "I was just saying what I thought," I replied. Among other variations.

    But it is an interesting discussion.

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