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  1. #1
    ametisto is offline Newbie
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    Default Narrative tenses

    We spoke about the narrative tenses in class last week. Are the following sentences correct? Thanks in advance for your help.

    John and Mary got married yesterday. They had met when they were kids, but they hadnít liked each other until they had started dating in College.

    Paula dropped out of university but her grades hadnít always been poor until she had met Frank who had had a bad influence on her and had encouraged her to skip classes.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Narrative tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by ametisto View Post
    We spoke about the narrative tenses in class last week. Are the following sentences correct? Thanks in advance for your help.

    John and Mary got married yesterday. They had met[1] when they were kids, but they hadnít liked [2]each other until they had started [3] dating in College.

    Paula dropped out of university but her grades hadnít[4] always been poor until she had met [5]Frank who had had [6]a bad influence on her and had [7]encouraged her to skip classes.
    Some course books and grammars seem to suggest that only the past perfect is correct when one past action precedes another. In fact, it is not used when we simply have a sequence of actions, as in.

    She met him, they started dating, and eventually they got married.

    In your examples, my personal feeling is:
    1. past perfect likely; past simple possible.
    2. past perfect likely; past simple possible.
    3. past perfect unlikely; past simple likely.
    4. past perfect very likely; past simple highly unlikely.
    5. past perfect unlikely; past simple likely.
    6 & 7. this will depend on what has been used in #4 and #5.

    The complicator in your examples is until. This gives an additional past time point for references to other actions.

    I must warn you that your course book may be prescriptive in its views on the narrative tenses and the sequence of tenses, and your teacher may disagree with me on the acceptability of some of my suggestions.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Narrative tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by ametisto View Post
    We spoke about the narrative tenses in class last week. Are the following sentences correct? Thanks in advance for your help.

    John and Mary got married yesterday. They had met when they were kids, but they hadnít didn't like each other until they had started dating in College.

    Paula dropped out of university but her grades hadnít always been poor until she had met Frank who had had a bad influence on her and had encouraged her to skip classes.
    I'd keep one instance of the past perfect - the one in bold. But even that's not mandatory. You could also keep 'hadn't liked each other".

    What you can't do in real life narrative (and expect to retain your readers) is to use the past perfect at every possible opportunity. Use it only when necessary.

  4. #4
    ametisto is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Narrative tenses

    Thanks. I'll see what my teacher has to say and then get back to you.

  5. #5
    ametisto is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Narrative tenses

    Would you please be so kind as to also comment on the following sentences:

    1. 25 workers were rescued from a mine in Chile. They had been working in the mine when there was a landslide.

    2. Peter was taken to the hospital. He passed out because he had been drinking beer for hours.

    3. Jane lived in a big mansion with a swimming pool and many servants even though she had been born into a poor family. Later she became a successful business woman and made lots of money.

    Another question that just came to mind is how can one actually teach the narrative tenses given that there is so much disagreement amongst users?
    Or to put it differently: Is the past perfect never mandatory in the narrative tenses?

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    Default Re: Narrative tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by ametisto View Post
    Would you please be so kind as to also comment on the following sentences:

    1. 25 workers were rescued from a mine in Chile. They had been working in the mine when there was a landslide.
    Yes.
    2. Peter was taken to the hospital. He passed out because he had been drinking beer for hours.
    Yes, this is when you use it - when there is a logical connection between two events in the past, and you want to stress this connection.
    (or, "because he had drunk too much beer)

    3. Jane lived in a big mansion with a swimming pool and many servants even though she had been born into a poor family. Later she became a successful business woman and made lots of money.
    Yes.
    Another question that just came to mind is how can one actually teach the narrative tenses given that there is so much disagreement amongst users?
    Or to put it differently: Is the past perfect never mandatory in the narrative tenses?
    The are times when I'd say the past perfect is mandatory (as above in 2.). But good authors don't overuse it. Reading recurrent instances of the past perfect is painful. If you had done this above, I would have called it wrong. You only need to do it to establish the time relationship and often the simple past is sufficient after that.
    There have been some good threads on the past perfect posted before, which you could search for.
    (How do you do it in German? Do you write strings of clauses ending in "hatte" after you've mentioned one thing in the past?)
    How do you teach it? - the same way you teach style - ie. anything that doesn't come with easy rules.

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