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  1. #1
    Mr. X is offline Junior Member
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    Default Past perfect tense

    Hello

    I have a question on past perfect sense... must it always come at the beginning? For instance: He had become sick even before the disease set in. (here 'had' is in the first half of the sentence). He became sick before the disease had set in. (here, 'had' is in the second).

    Are both forms okay, or is there some rule regarding this?

    Also, this example:
    d) He turned angry enough to kill. He had turned angry enough to have killed.

    Is that correct, the simple past and past perfect respectively? I am assuming 'turned' is followed by 'to' while 'had turned' is followed by 'to have'?

    Thanks,
    Mr. X

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Past perfect tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. X View Post
    Hello

    I have a question on past perfect sense... must it always come at the beginning? For instance: He had become sick even before the disease set in. (here 'had' is in the first half of the sentence). He became sick before the disease had set in. (here, 'had' is in the second).

    Are both forms okay, or is there some rule regarding this?
    Both are OK. There is no rule saying which clause must come first.
    "He had lost a lot of weight before he realised he had cancer"
    "Before he realised he had cancer, he had lost a lot of weight".
    (Note that your examples illustrate more than just which clause comes first.)

    Also, this example:
    d) He turned angry enough to kill. He had turned angry enough to have killed.

    Is that correct, the simple past and past perfect respectively? I am assuming 'turned' is followed by 'to' while 'had turned' is followed by 'to have'?

    Thanks,
    Mr. X
    - He turned angry enough to kill.
    - He had turned angry enough to have killed.
    - He turned angry enough to have killed.
    - He had turned angry enough to kill.

    All of these are possible in the right context. I think you're reading some unnecessary rules into the use of the past perfect.

  3. #3
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    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Past perfect tense

    Past tense
    .
    He turned angry enough to kill.
    .
    He became angry enough to (possibly) kill somebody.
    .

    Past perfect tense
    .
    He had turned angry enough to have killed.

    .
    He became angry enough (before something else happened) that he could have killed somebody.



    Use past perfect only when past tense is insufficient. Be sure you know there is a difference between the two and what that difference is.


  4. #4
    ~Mav~ is offline Member
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    Question Re: Past perfect tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    - He turned angry enough to kill.
    - He had turned angry enough to have killed.
    - He turned angry enough to have killed.
    - He had turned angry enough to kill.

    All of these are possible in the right context.
    Dear Raymott (and other native English speakers on these forums),

    Would you be so kind as to give me some great examples, which would make the meaning and usage of the Perfect Infinitive crystal clear ( ) to me?

    My current understanding is as following:
    //Examples a) and b) are present infinitives though.

    a) "He turned angry enough to kill." = Maybe he killed (or maybe not); he was angry enough to kill. (This is almost self-explanatory.)

    b) "He had turned angry enough to kill." = It's the same as the first sentence, only in Past Perfect.

    "So far, so good", but here comes the Perfect Infinitive.

    c) "He turned angry enough to have killed."

    Did he, or did he NOT kill in the end? The perfect form suggests (to me) that it actually happened, but if I remember correctly, the Perfect Infinitive has something to do with the 'imaginary past', where the actions did NOT complete. (Eg.: 'He was to have come.' implies that he did not come. Or 'I hoped to have asked you out for a dinner one day.' implies that it has never happened.) Am I right? Or I am right, BUT 'imaginary past' is only one usage of the Perfect Infinitive, and in other situation the Perfect Infinitive 'behaves' differently. If so, how? Might I ask you to make these things, you know, crystal clear?


    d) "He had turned angry enough to kill."
    I would be a bit surprised if it were that simple only to be the Past Perfect 'version' of the example c).

    And last, can the Perfect Infinitive be used after Present Perfect? I came across a sentence in a fan fiction, where they were used together: "He can be such a stick in the mud. Although, I guess he's had to have been able to stay alive out there for many years." I admit I don't really understand this structure, though I should stress that I don't question it either. What is the role of the Perfect Infinitive here? How would you rephrase this sentence?


    PS: If you, dear Moderators, think this question of mine would be better to have been written (Is it correct? Or 'would have been better to have been written', since it IS already here) in a separate thread, then feel free to split this thread, and accept my deepest apologies, please.


    PPS: Regardless of my question and of how understandable (or not) my post is, would you be so helpful as to point out my grammatical mistakes? Thank you very much in advance.
    Last edited by ~Mav~; 04-Jul-2010 at 00:20. Reason: Typo and formatting

  5. #5
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Past perfect tense

    Quote Originally Posted by ~Mav~ View Post
    Dear Raymott (and other native English speakers on these forums),

    Would you be so kind as to give me some great examples, which would make the meaning and usage of the Perfect Infinitive crystal clear ( ) to me?
    This is a formidable challenge. I'll see if anyone else wants to take it on first.

  6. #6
    tedtmc is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Past perfect tense

    May

    Raymott must have got intimidated by your request.
    I thought Ronbee has made it clear enough when he wrote this about the perfect infinitive - it is a possibility, not a fact.

    Past perfect tense

    He had turned angry enough to have killed.

    He became angry enough (before something else happened) that he could have killed somebody.
    not a teacher nor an English native speaker
    Last edited by tedtmc; 04-Jul-2010 at 06:01.

  7. #7
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Past perfect tense

    Quote Originally Posted by tedtmc View Post
    May

    Raymott must have got intimidated by your request.
    I was. Why don't you try? Remember, she wants great examples, and it has to be crystal clear to her when you've finished.
    The best I could do would be to offer to do my best.
    So, over to you!

  8. #8
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is online now Key Member
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    Default Re: Past perfect tense

    With the past perfect the point is you've got three times in mind: t, the present moment of enunciation; a past event at t-1; and an event that occurred even before that at t-2. If you don't need to discriminate between t-1 and t-2, you don't need the past perfect. If you do, you need it. It can be placed almost anywhere in the sentence.

  9. #9
    ~Mav~ is offline Member
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    Default Re: Past perfect tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ~Mav~ View Post
    Dear Raymott (and other native English speakers on these forums),

    Would you be so kind as to give me some great examples, which would make the meaning and usage of the Perfect Infinitive crystal clear ( ) to me?
    This is a formidable challenge. I'll see if anyone else wants to take it on first.
    I just tried to be nice and gave you a compliment by suggesting that your examples are usually great (which they really are, assuming that you have the inclination to provide some...). As for the phrase "crystal clear", it was a reference to "A Few Good Men", and you know the reason why. You emphasized two phrases - which I only wrote out of kindness - in my post, while you ignored all my questions, which I asked in a very polite way. As you would say: "Naughty! "


    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by tedtmc View Post
    May

    Raymott must have got intimidated by your request.
    I was. Why don't you try? Remember, she wants great examples, and it has to be crystal clear to her when you've finished.
    The best I could do would be to offer to do my best.
    Then do your worst! But really, you could have been sarcastic writing what you wrote, BUT you could have answered my questions at the same time (and with the same effort, by the way...) as well. Alrighty (sic!), don't give me "great examples" (Shakespeare provided one: "I had thought, Sir, to have held my peace." - though I wonder if "to hold" would also be correct...), give clumsy examples (or don't give any at all), don't try to make it "crystal clear", just please answer my questions above as well as point out my grammatical mistakes, please. That would be a good start, and you might even come up with some "great examples" without even realizing they are "great" or good. (Remember, what is natural and goes without saying for you, can be extremely useful for me, which I might not figure on my own. )


    PS: I think I did my best; I was asking politely (I was even overly polite; maybe I should be a bitch next time ), I wrote what my understanding was, I asked concrete questions, etc. I'm really sorry if you took it the wrong way by misinterpreting two innocent phrases.
    My former post above is still relevant, being unanswered.





    Dear native English speakers,
    Would you be so kind as to point out my grammatical mistakes in my posts? (Even the small ones.) Thank you very much!
    Last edited by ~Mav~; 04-Jul-2010 at 15:27. Reason: Typo

  10. #10
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Past perfect tense

    Quote Originally Posted by ~Mav~ View Post
    - in my post, while you ignored all my questions, which I asked in a very polite way.
    I didn't ignore them. I was quite clear about my intentions. If no-one else offers to help, I will answer them. There's no way I could simultaneously i) answer your questions and ii) wait to see if someone else wanted to accept the challenge first.

    Then do your worst! But really, you could have been sarcastic writing what you wrote, BUT you could have answered my questions at the same time (and with the same effort, by the way...) as well.
    You're overestimating my abilities if you think that.
    I would have had to put much more effort into answering the questions than not answering them. I think this would apply to most people - otherwise I'm sure ted and kon would have done so.

    I'm really sorry if you took it the wrong way by misinterpreting two innocent phrases.
    Not at all. You're reading too much into it. I was just messing with ya! You'll get your answer.

    My former post above is still relevant, being unanswered.
    And my current offer, which has not changed - that if no one else wants to accept the challenge, I will do so - still stands. I'll do it tomorrow.
    R.

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