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Thread: past perfect

  1. #1
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default past perfect

    HIs mother was all the more angry because he had forgotten to buy it.

    If the past perfect was changed to the simple past as this, would it still be OK and have almost the same meaning?

    HIs mother was all the more angry because he forgot to buy it.

  2. #2
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    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: past perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka View Post
    HIs mother was all the more angry because he had forgotten to buy it.

    If the past perfect was changed to the simple past as this, would it still be OK and have almost the same meaning?

    HIs mother was all the more angry because he forgot to buy it.
    Yes, it's OK.

  3. #3
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: past perfect

    So they are almost the same. Good.

    Just our of curiosity, do you see any subtle difference between the two?

  4. #4
    waflob is offline Member
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    Default Re: past perfect

    The difference is not obvious, but this is my understanding of it.

    Using the simple past, he has just come back from the shops and didn't buy whatever it was he was supposed to buy. With the past perfect, he forgot to buy it before that (for example, yesterday).

  5. #5
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: past perfect

    Would you agree with waflob, bhaisahab?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: past perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka View Post
    Would you agree with waflob, bhaisahab?
    When two almost structurally equal sentences are presented it is always possible to find a context in which the meaning is different.
    However, it not always worth it.
    You have not given enough context to judge whether the past perfect is indicated here. That makes it possible to argue either way and with possibly equal strength that i) they mean the same, or ii) they mean different things, or iii) given the case, it doesn't matter.
    I'd argue for iii.

  7. #7
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: past perfect

    Hmm...If 'You've done it', for example, sprang to your lips instead of 'You did it', I thought the feel or the psychology behind might be different although semantically both are almost the same.

    Practically speaking, that difference might not matter. I agree. But linguistically and psychologically, I thought it was worth giving a thought to. That's why I said 'just out of curiosity".

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