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Thread: "I had done it"

  1. #1
    ameya_ahr is offline Newbie
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    Question "I had done it"

    Dear groupmembers,

    I always thought "I had done it" was a perfectly legitimate standalone sentence. A colleague of mine, however, feels that it's a grammatically flawed sentence and should not be used in and of by itself.

    Need expert opinions on this please!

    regards
    Ameya

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    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: "I had done it"

    Welcome to the forum, ameya.

    Your colleague is right. 'It' must refer to something known, and the past perfect works only if we have a known past-time reference.

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    ameya_ahr is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: "I had done it"

    Dear mod, thanks for the welcome !

    Now, about the "known past time reference", would it help if the conversation up until that point has the detail?

    For eg:

    person 1: Am sure you never did the calculation Mr X had asked for before the meeting.
    person 2: I had done it !! He never bothered to check!

    Still incorrect?

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    Default Re: "I had done it"

    It's not just "I had done it" that is a problem when alone.

    Any past perfect will sound off unless it's in the context of another past action, but a more recent past action.

    Like:
    I had opened the door.
    He had made dinner.
    They had traveled throughout Europe.

    In the context of a conversation, you can use them alone, because that "past, but more recently past" time has already been established.

    How did the cat get out?
    I had opened the door to get rid of the smoke in the kitchen.

    Why didn't Mark seem pleased when Mary brought home take-out?
    He had made dinner for them.

    Etc.

    So, yes, in the context of "He was mad you hadn't done it before the meeting" your sentence works, but as a completely stand-alone sentence, it doesnt.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    Rover_KE is online now Moderator
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    Default Re: "I had done it"

    A completely stand-alone sentence is one spoken without reference to anything which has gone before.

    For example, after a period of companionable silence when having a drink with a friend, he might say 'I have become a Roman Catholic'.

    He wouldn't start a new topic of conversation with 'I had become a Roman Catholic.'

    Rover

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