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Thread: hitherto

  1. #1
    Tan Elaine is offline Key Member
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    hitherto

    You use hitherto to indicate that something was true up until the time you are talking about, although it may no longer be the case. (FORMAL)

    The polytechnics have hitherto been at an unfair disadvantage in competing for pupils and money...

    Why is 'have' used and not 'had'?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    billmcd is offline Key Member
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    Re: hitherto

    First, as used in your example, "hitherto" with "have been" is redundant because both indicate that something started in the past and continues until now, BUT if you want to use it for emphasis, I guess it's OK.

    Second, "had been" with "hitherto" is not correct because, again in your example, "had been" would indicate that the "unfair advantage" ended at some unspecified time in the past, whereas "hitherto" means up to this time i.e. continues until the present.

  3. #3
    Tan Elaine is offline Key Member
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    Re: hitherto

    Thanks, Billmcd.

    ADVERB:
    Until this time: The weather, which had hitherto been sunny and mild, suddenly turned cold.

    Why is 'had' (simple past) used in the above sentence when 'have' (simple present) is used in the sentence in my first post.

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
    billmcd is offline Key Member
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    Re: hitherto

    First, the use of "had" in your example is in combination with "been" (had been) and therefore not simple past, but past perfect. Likewise, the use of "have" in your example is also in combination with "been" (have been) and therefore not simple present, but present perfect.

    Second, "hitherto" is an archaic adverb which really adds nothing, except perhaps emphasis (or in this case, confusion) to proper use of verb tenses.

  5. #5
    Tan Elaine is offline Key Member
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    Re: hitherto

    Quote Originally Posted by billmcd View Post
    First, the use of "had" in your example is in combination with "been" (had been) and therefore not simple past, but past perfect. Likewise, the use of "have" in your example is also in combination with "been" (have been) and therefore not simple present, but present perfect.

    Second, "hitherto" is an archaic adverb which really adds nothing, except perhaps emphasis (or in this case, confusion) to proper use of verb tenses.
    Thanks, billmcd, for the explanation. I had been confused by this word for years but I only thought of posting the question yesterday to clear my doubt.

  6. #6
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: hitherto

    Quote Originally Posted by billmcd View Post
    First, as used in your example, "hitherto" with "have been" is redundant because both indicate that something started in the past and continues until now, BUT if you want to use it for emphasis, I guess it's OK.

    Second, "had been" with "hitherto" is not correct because, again in your example, "had been" would indicate that the "unfair advantage" ended at some unspecified time in the past, whereas "hitherto" means up to this time i.e. continues until the present.
    Exactly. If you used 'had been' you would have to use 'thitherto'. But as you say, 'hitherto' (or - with the past perfect - 'thitherto') is redundant.

    b

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