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  1. #1
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    Default Past Perfect / Present Perfect

    What do these mean?

    http://sympatico.msn.cbc.ca/story/sc...ars050124.html

    1. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada had recommended the polar bear... (How come it is in past perfect? Why not present perfect? What does it mean when it is past perfect and what does it mean when it is present perfect? How do you know which one to use?)

    2. But in this case, the department has decided not to add the three species. (How come this is in present perfect? Why not past perfect? Again, how do you know which one to use?)

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Past Perfect / Present Perfect

    The Committee and the Department are different, so the Committee's recommendation was made before the Department acted. The Department's decision is recent, hence the present perfect.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Past Perfect / Present Perfect

    Let's say the fish died

    And I ask:
    1. Have you seen this fish before?
    2. Had you seen this fish before?

    Which one do you use and why?
    Thanks.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Past Perfect / Present Perfect

    Scenario:

    Q: Jack, can you fix my car this weekend?

    1. A: I don't know. I have been very busy lately. (Does this mean that he is still busy?)
    2. A: I don't know. I had been very busy lately. I don't know if I want to fix it. I'm very tired. (With 'had' here, does it mean that he was busy in the past?)

    Thanks.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Past Perfect / Present Perfect

    Scenario:

    Q: Where did you go? I haven't seen you on this site for a while.

    Are these correct? If not, why? Doesn't it matter which one I use? How do I know which one to use? The one that suits the question best?
    1. A: I have been through rehab. (Replying back in general?)
    2. A: I had been through rehab before I visited this site. (A specific time in the past?)

    Thanks.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Past Perfect / Present Perfect

    Let's say someone is dead and that person helped me a lot. Do I say:

    1. He has helped me lot.
    2. He had helped me lot.

    Which one do I use and why?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Past Perfect / Present Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by jack
    Let's say the fish died

    And I ask:
    1. Have you seen this fish before?
    2. Had you seen this fish before?

    Which one do you use and why?
    Thanks.
    Hi Jack,

    Number one is just fine. Number two may need more context. Past perfect tense mostly deals with the relation between two events occurred in the past. Had you seen this fish when you were 10? ( Suppose you are 18 now.)

    Does that help?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Past Perfect / Present Perfect

    Yes, Thanks.

    But what about this one? It works like that here too?

    Let's say someone is dead and that person helped me a lot. Do I say:

    1. He has helped me a lot. (If this is okay, why? Isn't he dead now?)
    2. He had helped me a lot.

    Which one do I use and why?
    Last edited by jack; 24-Feb-2005 at 20:36.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Past Perfect / Present Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by jack
    Scenario:

    Q: Jack, can you fix my car this weekend?

    1. A: I don't know. I have been very busy lately. (Does this mean that he is still busy?)
    2. A: I don't know. I had been very busy lately. I don't know if I want to fix it. I'm very tired. (With 'had' here, does it mean that he was busy in the past?)

    Thanks.
    I'd say number one. Yes, present perfect tense has a connection to the present. So your first example implies he may still be busy at the moment. Number two sounds a bit inharmonic. The key word "lately" reveals that he has been busy these days, an abstract connection to now. Using past perfect "had" means that he was busy in the past but not now. I'd make a little change of your sentence here.

    I don't know. I'd been very busy and I'm VERY tired now. I'm not sure if I can fix it for you.

    Hope this helps.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Past Perfect / Present Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by jack
    Scenario:

    Q: Where did you go? I haven't seen you on this site for a while.

    Are these correct? If not, why? Doesn't it matter which one I use? How do I know which one to use? The one that suits the question best?
    1. A: I have been through rehab. (Replying back in general?)
    2. A: I had been through rehab before I visited this site. (A specific time in the past?)

    Thanks.
    Your explanation looks great.

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