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Thread: Verb tense

  1. #1
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    Default Verb tense

    I am confused. Which are correct?

    1. I was a teacher for 18 years before coming to the U.S.
    2. I was a teacher for 18 years before coming to the U.S. in 1980.
    3. I was a teacher for 18 years before I came to the U.S.
    4. I had been a teacher for 18 years before I came to the U.S.

    Thanks.

    BMO

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    Default

    4 is certainly right.

    FRC

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default

    1-3 are also correct- 'before' makes the sequence clear.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    1-3 are also correct- 'before' makes the sequence clear.
    Thanks.

    Both #3 and #4 are correct?

    I had been a teacher for 18 years before coming to the U.S.

    Is this correct too?

    BMO

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Verb tense

    Quote Originally Posted by bmo
    I am confused. Which are correct?

    1. I was a teacher for 18 years before coming to the U.S.
    2. I was a teacher for 18 years before coming to the U.S. in 1980.
    3. I was a teacher for 18 years before I came to the U.S.
    4. I had been a teacher for 18 years before I came to the U.S.

    Thanks.

    BMO
    I like all four of them. :wink:

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Verb tense

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    Quote Originally Posted by bmo
    I am confused. Which are correct?

    1. I was a teacher for 18 years before coming to the U.S.
    2. I was a teacher for 18 years before coming to the U.S. in 1980.
    3. I was a teacher for 18 years before I came to the U.S.
    4. I had been a teacher for 18 years before I came to the U.S.

    Thanks.

    BMO
    I like all four of them. :wink:
    Thanks to both of you.

    How about the "fifth," I had been a teacher for 18 years before coming to the U.S. ?

    BMO

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Verb tense

    Quote Originally Posted by bmo
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    Quote Originally Posted by bmo
    I am confused. Which are correct?

    1. I was a teacher for 18 years before coming to the U.S.
    2. I was a teacher for 18 years before coming to the U.S. in 1980.
    3. I was a teacher for 18 years before I came to the U.S.
    4. I had been a teacher for 18 years before I came to the U.S.

    Thanks.

    BMO
    I like all four of them. :wink:
    Thanks to both of you.

    How about the "fifth," I had been a teacher for 18 years before coming to the U.S. ?

    BMO
    I like that too. :wink:

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Verb tense

    Great. Thanks, that make it so simple since they are all correct.

    But my English teacher (I am taking an Advanced Grammar for ESL students this summer) said the fifth one should be a simple past.

    Well, I am kind of confused myself, why the following are both correct:

    1. I was a teacher before coming to the States, and
    2. I had been a teacher before coming to the States.

    I thought only No. 2 is correct, because it is a past perfect before a simple past.

    BMO

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Verb tense

    Quote Originally Posted by bmo
    Great. Thanks, that make it so simple since they are all correct.

    But my English teacher (I am taking an Advanced Grammar for ESL students this summer) said the fifth one should be a simple past.

    Well, I am kind of confused myself, why the following are both correct:

    1. I was a teacher before coming to the States, and
    2. I had been a teacher before coming to the States.

    I thought only No. 2 is correct, because it is a past perfect before a simple past.

    BMO
    We get this question often. English grammar allows us two ways to stage past events. One is to use the past perfect tense for the earlier action. The other is to use preopsitions or adverbs or conjunctions of time to clearly lay out the sequence.

    Your examples really don't have a simple past. Try this:

    I graduated from college when I lived in Iowa. (graduated in Iowa)
    I had graduated from college when I lived in Iowa. (graduated before Iowa)
    I graduated from college before I lived in Iowa. (graduated before Iowa)
    I had graduated from college before I lived in Iowa. (graduated before Iowa)

    I chose "when" in #1 as a neutral because it is often not clear all by itself.

    The next three use the past perfect, a time clue, and both, respectively.

    I would accept all three as correct. All are clear enough, but notice that #3 and #4 are little clearer than #2. This is because the conjunction "before" leaves no doubt.

    Some grammarians will say that #4 is the most correct, and I have no objection to it. But it is hard to say anything neagtive against #3. It is up to you. Either use the past perfect and a clear timing clue or use the simple past with a clear timing clue. Most will be very happy with either choice. :wink:

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Verb tense

    Thank you so much; it is very clear.

    BMO

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