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  1. #61
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    Re: I thought I had

    It's easy enough to accept all points of view about terminology, as what we call things just changes the scenery a bit on the path. Everyone has a different method and a different way of explaining language. However, I would go back to the original question of this discussion, which is this:

    I thought I replied.
    I thought I had replied.

    Both of these sentences, especially as isolated sentences entirely out of context, are equally correct. One is not speaking more or less correctly in a form whatsoever by choosing to say or write either sentence.

    The same thing goes for these additional examples:

    I thought we discussed that last week.
    I thought we had discussed that last week.

    I thought you spoke to him last week.
    I thought you had spoken to him last week.

    I thought you made the copies this morning.
    I thought you had made the copies this morning.

    I thought she called to say she would be in later this afternoon.
    I thought she had called to say she would be in later this afternoon.



    If one's sense of correctness or propriety should lead one to say or believe that the past perfect in each pair of the above sentences is more correct or better for "writing", then I would have to ask again why one should believe that this is so. Using the past perfect instead of the simple past in the pairs of example sentences listed above does not do anything to clarify their meaning. In fact, the simple past is all that is necessary and quite likely the most popular and most logical choice. Equating the most popular choice, or that which would occur more commonly in spoken language, with something that is "less than the best" or something that is "not as correct or not as good" is misleading to English language learners. So, once again, the question is this: With what reasoning could one conclude that it's best to advise students that the past perfect is the better and more correct choice in the original pair of examples? I say there is not reason for it. The simple past works just as well, and more context would be needed to truly justify saying one is more correct or better than the other. It should not be a question of which one is more common in spoken language. It's a question of whether or not English language learners should be unnecessarily compelled to adhere to a method that native speakers do not adhere to. Context has to justify the use of the past perfect, and there is no such context in this case. The context should have to clearly indicate that the past perfect is logical, and necessary, because without it, a sequence of events would not be made clear. It's true that the past perfect can give the effect of language that sounds more articulate and refined, but that does not make the simple past wrong in such cases where the past perfect is not needed to logically and accurately complete the meaning of what someone says or writes.

    __________________________________________________

    In fact, insisting on the past perfect as "more correct" or even simply "better for writing" - whatever one means by "writing" - could confuse English language learners.

    1. I thought I replied.
    2. I thought I had replied.

    1. She said she wanted to reschedule the appointment. ( she wants to reschedule)
    2. She said she had wanted to reschedule the appointment. (but then changed her mind - but then decided to keep the appointment at the same time)

    It's clear that an ELL could be easily inclined to think that the second sentence of the second pair is what one must say or write to be "more correct" if the same learner believes that the second sentence of the first pair is what one must say or write to be "more correct". Clearly, the meanings of both sentences in the second pair are not the same. This means that one must recognize when the use of the past perfect is, in fact, truly necessitated. One should not believe that past perfect is any better than the simple past when it is not required to clearly complete the meaning of what one says or writes. It certainly would be a mistake for a learner to believe that only the second sentence in the second pair is correct. And if one is looking at grammatical forms as models or patterns, then that's certainly what could happen.

    I conclude by saying that these sentences are equally correct and using the past perfect is not absolutely necessary to make the thought or idea expressed "more correct" for writing or any other purpose.

    I thought I replied. I thought I had replied.

    Both are equally correct.
    Last edited by PROESL; 22-Sep-2009 at 17:48. Reason: left out the l in the first "replied"

  2. #62
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    Re: I thought I had

    You try to isolate an utterance from any context whatsoever. But the degree to which it matches the context is the only criterion for correctness, other than internal grammar.

    It's pretty much meaningless to say "both are correct, especially as isolated sentences entirely out of context."

    It's happened many times in this forum that learners have presented a question with a false dichotomy.

    I am having an argument with my brother. I say "The workman is on the house," he says "the workman is in the house." Please tell us, who is right?

    Depends entirely on the state of affairs the sentence is meant to represent. Both the utterances you cite there do indeed have internal consistency and "sound" correct.

    The difference of opinion was whether one was a better or an equal match to a given meaning which is very commonly associated with at least one of them, probably both.

    I thought the shorter phrase to be common in the oral register but to be a quick approximation which, in writing, failed to meet the requirements of written grammar entirely; you felt both do so equally.

    That's about it.

  3. #63
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    Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    You try to isolate an utterance from any context whatsoever. But the degree to which it matches the context is the only criterion for correctness, other than internal grammar.

    It's pretty much meaningless to say "both are correct, especially as isolated sentences entirely out of context."

    It's happened many times in this forum that learners have presented a question with a false dichotomy.

    I am having an argument with my brother. I say "The workman is on the house," he says "the workman is in the house." Please tell us, who is right?

    Depends entirely on the state of affairs the sentence is meant to represent. Both the utterances you cite there do indeed have internal consistency and "sound" correct.

    The difference of opinion was whether one was a better or an equal match to a given meaning which is very commonly associated with at least one of them, probably both.

    I thought the shorter phrase to be common in the oral register but to be a quick approximation which, in writing, failed to meet the requirements of written grammar entirely; you felt both do so equally.

    That's about it.
    It's meaningless to say that one is correct and the other is not. Both are equally correct in writing or speaking. Just because the past perfect sounds better to you doesn't mean that it's only correct in writing and the simple past is not correct in writing. One would have to clearly see a need for the past perfect in order to clarify meaning in order to say that it is required in writing or speaking.

    They don't just sound correct. They are correct. Can you justify why you think one of them only "sounds" correct? I don't think this is justifiable. It's not based on anything other than what you think. I've already clearly shown that the perfect is not necessary to complete the meaning of the example sentence.

    1. I thought I replied. - This is correct. (yesterday - no additional context or information to be understood by either speaker or listener)
    2. I thought I had replied. - And this is correct. (before he called - with additinal information in the context understood by both speaker and listener)

    Context given as part of the dialog:

    1. He says he didn't get my reply? I thought I replied to his email yesterday. It might have gone to his junk mail if he says he didn't get it.

    2. I thought I had replied to his email before he called yesterday afternoon. I guess he hadn't checked his email before calling again (this morning). You explained the deal to him, though, right? So he's all set. Good.

    With references to times and other events, we can see how one is not better than the other. Without these references, as isolated sentences, both are equally correct.

    Context easily justifies either one, but without context, it's impossible to say one is more correct than the other, or that one only "sounds" correct, or that one is more suitable to an oral register or spoken language. Both are equally correct as isolated sentences. However, when we relate one action to another action in a sequence of events, then we can say that one becomes correct and the other is not absolutely clear.

    Once again, as isolated sentences, without some sort of context, both sentences are equally correct, and I've demonstrated this by adding some context to these original example sentences.

    Both are equally correct in writing and speaking:

    1. I thought I replied.
    2. I thought I had replied.

    One of these becomes a better choice or the correct choice when we understand something more about the context. However, a context still may not justify saying that one is more correct in either writing or speaking. It depends on the context.

    I use logic to deduce when the past perfect becomes necessary or a better choice. Be it speaking or writing, both are equally correct. There's no need to automatically bring the past to the past perfect in the second clause of this example in order to say "the sentence is correct or more correct".
    Last edited by PROESL; 22-Sep-2009 at 17:52.

  4. #64
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    Re: I thought I had

    Who said anything about automatically? If the actions of the two verbs take place at different times, the version "I thought I had replied" is much more close to that meaning, and "I thought I replied" is just a rough approximation. The problem with your side of the argument is that with "I thought + [another verb]" we are usually confessing to have changed our minds about something, and we are almost always expressing the idea that "up until a moment ago, I thought..... " about something that happened well before that moment of our change of heart.

    So I don't agree that both are equally correct, in such circumstances.

  5. #65
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    Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    It's meaningless to say that one is correct and the other is not. Both are equally correct in writing or speaking. Just because the past perfect sounds better to you doesn't mean that it's only correct in writing and the simple past is not correct in writing. One would have to clearly see a need for the past perfect in order to clarify meaning in order to say that it is required in writing or speaking.

    They don't just sound correct. They are correct. Can you justify why you think one of them only "sounds" correct? I don't think this is justifiable. It's not based on anything other than what you think. I've already clearly shown that the perfect is not necessary to complete the meaning of the example sentence.

    1. I thought I replied. - This is correct. (yesterday - no additional context or information to be understood by either speaker or listener)
    2. I thought I had replied. - And this is correct. (before he called - with additinal information in the context understood by both speaker and listener)

    Context given as part of the dialog:

    1. He says he didn't get my reply? I thought I replied to his email yesterday. It might have gone to his junk mail if he says he didn't get it.

    2. I thought I had replied to his email before he called yesterday afternoon. I guess he hadn't checked his email before calling again (this morning). You explained the deal to him, though, right? So he's all set. Good.

    With references to times and other events, we can see how one is not better than the other. Without these references, as isolated sentences, both are equally correct.

    Context easily justifies either one, but without context, it's impossible to say one is more correct than the other, or that one only "sounds" correct, or that one is more suitable to an oral register or spoken language. Both are equally correct as isolated sentences. However, when we relate one action to another action in a sequence of events, then we can say that one becomes correct and the other is not absolutely clear.

    Once again, as isolated sentences, without some sort of context, both sentences are equally correct, and I've demonstrated this by adding some context to these original example sentences.

    Both are equally correct in writing and speaking:

    1. I thought I replied.
    2. I thought I had replied.

    One of these becomes a better choice or the correct choice when we understand something more about the context. However, a context still may not justify saying that one is more correct in either writing or speaking. It depends on the context.

    I use logical to deduce when the past perfect becomes necessary or a better choice. Be it speaking or writing, both are equally correct. There's no need to automatically bring the past to the past perfect in the second clause of this example in order to say "the sentence is correct or more correct".
    I think both are correct but I would use "I thought I replied yesterday" with a time indicator. "I thought I replied" sounds to me that the speaker wants to say "I thought I'd replied". I kept mulling over "I thought I replied" but still does not feel right to me without a time indicator. It's kind of weird because it does not explicitly tell me whether the reply came before the thought. It's like konungursvia said, it's a lazy way/rough approximation for "I thought I had replied".

  6. #66
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    Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by lycen View Post
    I think both are correct but I would use "I thought I replied yesterday" with a time indicator. "I thought I replied" sounds to me that the speaker wants to say "I thought I'd replied". I kept mulling over "I thought I replied" but still does not feel right to me without a time indicator. It's kind of weird because it does not explicitly tell me whether the reply came before the thought. It's like konungursvia said, it's a lazy way/rough approximation for "I thought I had replied".
    It's explicit within the sentence itself that the reply came before the thought. Anyone with native speaker ability would easily interpret the sentence as such, as I would say many speakers that don't have native speaker ability could still interpret the sentence in the same way. There's no logical reason for one to say "I thought I replied" and mean that the thought came before the reply. If you thought you did something, then obviously, you thought you did it before the thought of having done it occurs to you.

    The reply doesn't have to tell you that. Why do you think it's a reply in the first place? It's an isolated sentence. As for time adverbs (time indicators), it is often easily understood within a given context the to which one is referring. Therefore, as the question of a correct sentence goes, it's not necessary here to use a time indicator, what we can also call a time adverb.

    It's true that the "d" in the contraction of "I had" is often lost when people speak quickly. However, this does not mean that it always belongs there or that a speaker intended it to be there.


    I think it's more common, however, for the "d" to go unnoticed by ELLs in the second conditional. As well, it's quite likely that many learners don't notice "ve" or "s" in present perfect contractions, which is what experience tells me from having used short dictations to integreate pronunciation, listening, and grammar, with the principal focus of a lesson often being on one of three. I agree that listening affects pronunciation, and listening comprehension affects the communicative learning of grammar. (Learners are apt to say what they think they hear and respond to what they think they hear, which is one reason to take time to focus exclusively on spoken language. In business and work situations, that's the first priority - spoken language - pronunciation and listening.) This applies to the past perfect just as well, but it doesn't mean that the past perfect is intended - or should be intended - because it could unnoticed as a contraction.

  7. #67
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    Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    It's explicit within the sentence itself that the reply came before the thought. Anyone with native speaker ability would easily interpret the sentence as such, as I would say many speakers that don't have native speaker ability could still interpret the sentence in the same way. There's no logical reason for one to say "I thought I replied" and mean that the thought came before the reply.
    No, it's implicit at best. Explicit means that the information is materially present in the utterance. That's basically a corollary of my whole point.

    And no one was suggesting the thought about the sight came before the sighting. The question is, and always was, whether they occur together or with the sighting being portrayed as preceding.

    Since you enjoy web sources so much, Pro, here's one for you.

    WordNet Search - 3.0

  8. #68
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    Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    It's explicit within the sentence itself that the reply came before the thought. Anyone with native speaker ability would easily interpret the sentence as such, as I would say many speakers that don't have native speaker ability could still interpret the sentence in the same way. There's no logical reason for one to say "I thought I replied" and mean that the thought came before the reply. If you thought you did something, then obviously, you thought you did it before the thought of having done it occurs to you.

    The reply doesn't have to tell you that. Why do you think it's a reply in the first place? It's an isolated sentence. As for time adverbs (time indicators), it is often easily understood within a given context the to which one is referring. Therefore, as the question of a correct sentence goes, it's not necessary here to use a time indicator, what we can also call a time adverb.

    It's true that the "d" in the contraction of "I had" is often lost when people speak quickly. However, this does not mean that it always belongs there or that a speaker intended it to be there.


    I think it's more common, however, for the "d" to go unnoticed by ELLs in the second conditional. As well, it's quite likely that many learners don't notice "ve" or "s" in present perfect contractions, which is what experience tells me from having used short dictations to integreate pronunciation, listening, and grammar, with the principal focus of a lesson often being on one of three. I agree that listening affects pronunciation, and listening comprehension affects the communicative learning of grammar. (Learners are apt to say what they think they hear and respond to what they think they hear, which is one reason to take time to focus exclusively on spoken language. In business and work situations, that's the first priority - spoken language - pronunciation and listening.) This applies to the past perfect just as well, but it doesn't mean that the past perfect is intended - or should be intended - because it could unnoticed as a contraction.
    It still looks like a lazy/rough approximation of "I thought I had replied".
    As lycen and konungursvia have already said.

  9. #69
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    Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    It still looks like a lazy/rough approximation of "I thought I had replied".
    As lycen and konungursvia have already said.
    It may look like that to you, but it's not a lazy rough approximation of "I thought I had replied". It's a correct sentence, and to tell ELLs otherwise is to send them down the wrong road and create an unnecessary burden to their learning. One should have to show that the past perfect is logically required to clarify meaning or that one may choose to use it because it is correct to do. One should not state that on must use it for any of these reasons: 1. The book says so 2. It sounds more elegant 3. When there's a choice between the past perfect or the simple past, we must choose the past perfect because the simple past belongs to a "spoken register". 4. It's better for writing to use the past perfect when the opportunity presents itself.

    So far, those are the only reasons I've read here for the assertion that "I thought I replied" is something less correct than "I thought I had replied".

    It is correct to say or write "I thought I replied", and other similar such sentences are also correct. I've outlined my reasoning for this in my last few posts. I've even shown where blindly and loyally following the pattern of the sentence that uses the past perfect could potentially lead a learner to think that it's correct to use the past perfect when it really is not, and in so doing, would convey the incorrect meaning.

    I thought I replied. - This is correct.
    I thought I had replied. - This is correct.

    Context is the determiner to tell us whether we should choose on or the other or say that both are correct. Without context, both are correct.

    I've provided context for both sentences in a previous post, which supports my assertion. I haven't read any logical reason here that supports the assertion that "I thought I had replied" is automatically better than "I thought I replied".

  10. #70
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    Re: I thought I had

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    It still looks like a lazy/rough approximation of "I thought I had replied".
    As lycen and konungursvia have already said.
    Why does it look that way? What is the reasoning on which you base this assertion?

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