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  1. #1
    Nefertiti is offline Member
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    Default by the time, before, when, while

    Hi,

    1. By the time she went to the station, the train has been gone.
    2. Before she went to the station, the train has been gone.
    3. When she went to the station, the train has been gone.
    4. While she went to the station, the train has been gone.

    Any differences in the sentences(1-4) above?

    Thanks,

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: by the time, before, when, while

    [CAUTION: I am not a teacher:take the advice and or corrections offered in this post at your own risk.
    If you doubt the information, please get a qualified opinion from one of the teachers on these forums.]

    Ooookay, first let's fix your sentences:

    1. By the time she went to the station, the train has been gone.(x)

    The train had left by the time she got to/left for the staiton.
    By the time she got to/left for the station, the train had (already) left.

    2. Before she went to the station, the train has been gone.(x)

    The train had left before she got to/left for the station.
    Before she got to/left for the station, the train had (already) left.

    3. When she went to the station, the train has been gone.(x)

    The train had (already) left when [by the time] she got to/left for the station.
    When [at the time] she got to the station, the train had already left.

    4. While she went to the station, the train has been gone.(x)

    While she was going to/leaving for the station, the train had already left.
    The train had already left while she was going to/leaving for the station.

    You may have put the clauses referring to time at the front of your sentences to emphasise that you wanted attention given to them, there is nothing grammatically incorrect about this, but it is more customary to put them at the end of the sentence (which is why I switched them) unless they are being stressed for some reason (as may be the case).

    Trains and planes don't "go" from a place, they "depart" or "leave". You can say a train is "going" to a place or "bound" for a place, you could even say "the train is gone"(it is not here), but I would not say "the train has/is already gone".

    I would not say "she went to the station". Your sentences are focusing on the situation at the time that she arrives at the station or the completed action of her leaving. In some of your examples, you're using "went", the past form, when you clearly want "gone" the past perfect form. But going is tricky, because it doesn't imply the complete action of arriving, which seems necessary for some of your sentences Try this:

    I would not say: "She went to school just five minutes ago." I would say: "She left for school just five minutes ago."

    In my mind "she went to..." implies an action that is not complete (or she would have gotten there) or that is continuous (she went to college for three months).

    Finally, try this:

    I went to the museum while it was still open.(this implies continuous action to me, over a period of time)
    I got to the museum while it was still open.(this implies one incident, where I successfully arrived at the museum)
    Opinions, anyone?
    Last edited by weiming; 03-Sep-2007 at 06:13.

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