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  1. #1
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    Default Past Perfect Tense

    Sorry for keeping to ask questions, I've the last one left, the Past Perfect Tense is used for things happened in the past and that were still going on, egg:

    -I had been going home before I met my friend.

    But what if I specify the time, let's guess I met my friend yesterday, it should be:

    -Yesterday, I had been going home before I met my friend.

    or it should be:

    -Yesterday, I was going home before I met my friend.

    If I put the time it doesn't change the Past Pefect Tense or it does?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Past Perfect Tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris87 View Post
    Sorry for keeping to ask questions, I've the last one left, the Past Perfect Tense is used for things happened in the past and that were still going on, egg:

    -I had been going home before I met my friend.

    But what if I specify the time, let's guess I met my friend yesterday, it should be:

    -Yesterday, I had been going home before I met my friend.

    or it should be:

    -Yesterday, I was going home before I met my friend.

    If I put the time it doesn't change the Past Pefect Tense or it does?
    The tense you ask isn't the past perfect. It's the past perfect continuous. And if you open Essential Grammar by Raymond Murpy you can find the answers to your questions.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Past Perfect Tense

    In the not unlikely event that Chris87 doesn't have a copy of Murphy's:

    The past perfect progressive, as you say, Chris, describes an action that began in the past and was still continuing at a point in the past. For example:

    It had been raining.

    There's no reason why you can't add a specific point in time. Consider:

    By 1901, Queen Victoria had been reigning for more than 63 years.

    However, the past perfect progressive isn't very common. Your sentence:

    I had been going home when...

    is very unusual. We would more naturally use the past progressive here:

    I was going home when...

    The reason? Well, going home is an action with a definite, forseeable end, which is the intended result of the action: the aim is to arrive home. Reigning, however, is something that monarchs do, but it's not something they do in order to acheive an end result, when they can lean back and say, "Well, now I've reigned. What should I do now?" They reign until they die, go mad or abdicate, and then they stop reigning.

  4. #4
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    Smile Re: Past Perfect Tense

    Hi Chris,
    You needn't apologize for asking questions, that's what forums are for.
    To my mind, of all English tenses the Past Perfect is the trickiest.
    IMHO you need the PPerfect to show precedence even if you've got a time marker. But your sentence looks odd to me. Why not just Yesterday I was going home when I met a friend of mine. ?
    Best wishes.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Past Perfect Tense

    Yeah, the fact is that I've an important English Test for my job where it's decide I will keep my job or they won't keep me =(. I used to speak English without so many problems even if I used to speak it messing up the Simple Past and Present Perfect.

    But since I've got to do that test, I studied the difference between the two pasts and I understood them better, but now my mind is set up on rules, if I hadn't go to do that test, I would have probably kept speaking in my way, 'cause people understand me both if I use correct pasts or not, like "I haven't downloaded that program on my coputer" but they say to use Present Perfect for actions that haven't finished yet so I even get confused if say "I haven't downloaded downloaded that program on my computer" or "I didn't download that program on my computer".

    It's three days now I've been trying to understand how to use that pasts if there isn't any specification of time, 'cause if I was talking about the program of my computer with times like "yesterday, yet" it was very easy: "I haven't downloaded the program on my computer yet" or "I didn't download the program on my computer yesterday".

    But what if there is not specification of time? How do I understand what past to use if there is no time specification near? I understood now the difference between Past Perfect Tense Continuous and Simple Past Continuous, but I haven't understand yet that from Simple Past and Present Perfect.

    Even if you told me to not be sorry for asking things, sorry for this big essay >.<, but you know I want to understand as much as I can about these pasts within two days, so I'll be able to make a perfect test. Thanks to all.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Past Perfect Tense

    The simple past/present perfect dilemma is a very common one. The difference is very subtle, but very important in English.

    The key to the whole thing is that the present perfect is actually a present tense, not a past tense. Its primary purpose is not to describe a past action, but to like a past action with the present.

    Consider the difference between:

    Paul broke the window.
    Paul has broken the window.

    The first sentence is merely a statement that Paul, at some time in the past, broke the window. The second sentence, however, describes a present state of affairs: there are now pieces of glass all over the floor and a big whole where the window used to be, all as a result of Paul's actions.

    The reason you cannot use a definite time in the past with the present perfect is not because there is some cosmic law that says "You shall not use a definite time in the past with the present perfect", but because as soon as you do name a specific time in the past, you demonstrate that you are talking about the past.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Past Perfect Tense

    So in short when you talk about things happened in the past you use in the sentences the Simple Past more times than the Present Perfect Tense right?

    You told me the differenceis soft, but "I haven't downloaded the program" is very hard to understand, 'cause is a past in fact the program is not on your PC, you have never downloaded it so "I didn't download the program" would fit the sentence as well.

    You made me the example of the mirror, he has broken the window so the pieces of glass are on the floor and that's a present thing, but I haven't downloaded the program has nothing to do with the present, you could say me, yeah it does 'cause the program is not on the PC yet, but then even "I killed a fly" should become "I have killed a fly" even if I killed it years ago, 'cause the fly is still dead so the fact that I killed it has an effect on the present.

    Another example can be a child is hitting a wall and me mother says "Stop" but he keeps doing that so the mother says "I've told you to stop" but the mother could use even "I told you to stop" so which one would be the right one? "I've told you to stop" is right 'cause is about the present 'cause the last time I told you to stop was like one minut ago, so is always the present, but even "I told you to stop" is right 'cause I said that in a precise moment (one minut ago) so in a precise time of the past, so how do you understand what's the right one to use for that moment?

    In short to me it seems like they can be used at the same way...
    Last edited by Chris87; 01-Oct-2006 at 19:28.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Past Perfect Tense

    Generally yes, unless it's really the present you're interested in.

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