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    #1

    Using "while" with the past perfect

    Greetings to all English teachers and those interested in English,
    While reading "English for Starters", the English curriculum used by the Syrian Ministry of Education, I came across a couple of sentences which sounded awkward to me:

    "While we were away, our apartment had been burgled," which I would normally express as "While we were away, our apartment was burgled."

    "While he was flying, a cow had gone mad and he had thrown it down," which I would normally express as "While he was flying, a cow went mad and he threw it down."

    I didn't think that the past perfect could be used with "while", since it indicates that the two actions happened simultaneously. What I need from you is either confirmation or refutation of my "hunch" about this matter.

    Thanks in advance for your patience and help,
    M. Rustom

  1. #2

    Thumbs up Re: Using "while" with the past perfect

    You are right


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    #3

    Re: Using "while" with the past perfect

    Thanks, Expoobedient


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    #4

    Re: Using "while" with the past perfect

    If you've got a spare minute, additional opinions are needed....


    Thanx

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Using "while" with the past perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by Majd Rustom View Post
    Greetings to all English teachers and those interested in English,
    While reading "English for Starters", the English curriculum used by the Syrian Ministry of Education, I came across a couple of sentences which sounded awkward to me:

    "While we were away, our apartment had been burgled," which I would normally express as "While we were away, our apartment was burgled."

    "While he was flying, a cow had gone mad and he had thrown it down," which I would normally express as "While he was flying, a cow went mad and he threw it down."

    I didn't think that the past perfect could be used with "while", since it indicates that the two actions happened simultaneously. What I need from you is either confirmation or refutation of my "hunch" about this matter.

    Thanks in advance for your patience and help,
    M. Rustom
    You can use a while clause with either the past perfect or the simple past. It is not the while clause that determines this.

    As a stand alone sentence:
    "While we were away, our apartment was/had been burgled" are both correct.

    A: Did you enjoy your holiday?
    B: Yes, but while we were away our apartment was burgled.
    (No need for past perfect here.)

    I was left with no furniture because, while we were away, our apartment had been burgled. (I think the past perfect is better here.)


    • Join Date: Nov 2009
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    #6

    Re: Using "while" with the past perfect

    So Raymott, is there a need for the past perfect in the sentences I quoted?

    As standalones, do they sound OK to you?

    Within context, is it any different? This is the original text which includes one of these sentences:

    "One day, a fisherman on the Aral Sea was sailing home after a day's work. It was raining and he wasn't feeling happy. He wasn't having a very good day and hadn't caught many fish. Suddenly, he heard a strange noise. a cow was flying towards his boat! The cow hit the boat and nearly destroyed it. When the fisherman got back home, people didn't believe his story. Then, some time later, the US Air Force showed that the fisherman had told the truth. While one of their transport planes was flying over the Aral Sea, a cow on the plane had gone mad and the pilot had thrown it into the sea!"

    I can see that the bold typed actions happened before other actions in the past; however, I can only perceive them as related to the other action mentioned in the immediate sentence in which they occur, i.e. "was flying", which denotes interruption or cooccurence.

    Thanks for your help and sorry for my nonstop questions.

  3. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Using "while" with the past perfect

    The past imperfect also takes while.

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Using "while" with the past perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by Majd Rustom View Post
    So Raymott, is there a need for the past perfect in the sentences I quoted?

    As standalones, do they sound OK to you?

    As I said:
    As a stand alone sentence: "While we were away, our apartment was/had been burgled" are both correct.

    All of your sentences are possible.

    Within context, is it any different? This is the original text which includes one of these sentences:

    "One day, a fisherman on the Aral Sea was sailing home after a day's work. It was raining and he wasn't feeling happy. He wasn't having a very good day and hadn't caught many fish. Suddenly, he heard a strange noise. a cow was flying towards his boat! The cow hit the boat and nearly destroyed it. When the fisherman got back home, people didn't believe his story. Then, some time later, the US Air Force showed that the fisherman had told the truth. One of their transport planes was/had been flying over the Aral Sea, and a cow on the plane had gone/went mad and the pilothad thrown/ threw it into the sea!"
    Thanks for your help and sorry for my nonstop questions.
    I still don't see 'while' as being the issue. I've changed your story so that it doesn't use 'while', and the same choices have to be made. (My preferences are in bold).


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