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  1. #1
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    Default Sequence of Tenses

    Hi,
    This is a bit tough sometimes. Could you please tell me which is correct (in case one has it in a test) :
    1. Phil said that when he was in France he didnít miss any opportunity to speak French.
    2. Phil said that when he had been in France he hadnít missed any opportunity to speak French.
    TIA

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sequence of Tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Humble View Post
    Hi,
    This is a bit tough sometimes. Could you please tell me which is correct (in case one has it in a test) :
    1. Phil said that when he was in France he didnít miss any opportunity to speak French.
    2. Phil said that when he had been in France he hadnít missed any opportunity to speak French.
    TIA
    I find no need for the past perfect in that sentence. It is obvious that the French trip occurred before the statement. I would use 1.

  3. #3
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Sequence of Tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    I find no need for the past perfect in that sentence. It is obvious that the French trip occurred before the statement. I would use 1.
    "I would use 1.", indicates a stylistic choice, Mike. So that leaves sentence 2 as a very real option.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Sequence of Tenses

    The usual rule-of-thumb for transforming direct into indirect speech is to look to see if the first verb is a present-tense form: if so, convert it to a past-tense form.

    What was Phil's original statement? In each case, there are two possibilities:

    1a: When I am in France, I don't miss any opportunity...
    1b: What I was in France, I didn't miss any opportunity...

    2a: When I have been in France, I haven't missed any opportunity...
    2b: When I had been in France, I hadn't missed any opportunity...

    Sentences 2a and 2b are not the sort of things a native speaker would say.

    "When" in conjunction with the present perfect usually refers to a future event that is predicted or expected to have been completed by a certain time. In such sentences, we usually expect a modal verb in the main clause:

    When I have made this cake, I can relax.
    When I have passed my driving test, I will buy a car.

    Sentence 2b is also unnatural because the past perfect refers to an action completed before a specified time in the past; but the when-clause itself specifies a time to be used as a reference point. Not a very useful thing to do.

    That leaves 1a and 1b. Sentence 1a can be transformed into your sentence 1 if Phil has, since making the statement, stopped travelling to France or died.

    Neither 2a or 2b are sentences that a native speaker would ever utter, so sentence 2 can be ruled out.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Sequence of Tenses

    Tnx to all of you.
    What's the conclusion, Rewboss?
    If Phil is still alive and kicking #1 is incorrect.
    #2 is ruled out.
    A devastating parsing. What am I left with? Looks like a conjurer's trick.
    BTW what was meant is your 1b.

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    Post Re: Sequence of Tenses

    Usually Americans prefer to use the simple past tense while past perfect is used in British--and especially colonial--English. That's the only difference I find between them.

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    Default Re: Sequence of Tenses

    Hi, Rewboss,
    Will you be so kind as to complete your job - my question's left dangling.
    Tnx vy much.

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    Default Re: Sequence of Tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Humble View Post
    Tnx to all of you.
    What's the conclusion, Rewboss?
    If Phil is still alive and kicking #1 is incorrect.
    No. Sentence 1 is correct.

    If the original sentence uttered by Phil is sentence 1a, then you can transform it into your sentence 1 if Phil is dead. If the original sentence uttered by Phil is sentence 1b, then it can always be transformed to your sentence 1, even if Phil is still alive.

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    Default Re: Sequence of Tenses

    Tnx, Rewboss.
    Now that's clear. I must have been so struck by the supposed death of my hero that I overlooked stopped going to France.
    Regards

  10. #10
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Sequence of Tenses

    rewboss: The usual rule-of-thumb for transforming direct into indirect speech is to look to see if the first verb is a present-tense form: if so, convert it to a past-tense form.

    The problem, Rewboss, is whether we want to follow language or rules of thumb.

    What was Phil's original statement? In each case, there are two possibilities:

    1a: When I am in France, I don't miss any opportunity...
    1b: What I was in France, I didn't miss any opportunity...

    If Phil says sentence 1a, then it can be reported as,

    Phil says/said that when he's in France, he doesn't miss any opportunity...
    Phil says/said that when he was in France, he didn't miss any opportunity...


    Phil said that when he had been in France, I hadn't/didn't miss(ed) any opportunity...


    Sentence 2b is also unnatural because the past perfect refers to an action completed before a specified time in the past; but the when-clause itself specifies a time to be used as a reference point. Not a very useful thing to do.

    When we're dealing with reported speech, this has nothing to do with "an action completed before a specified time in the past". It only has to do with reported speech.



    Neither 2a or 2b are sentences that a native speaker would ever utter, so sentence 2 can be ruled out.

    The rules regarding reported speech are not the direct bang bang relationship that traditional grammar has led folks to believe. That leaves Hunble's sentence 2 as a possibility.


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