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  1. xpert's Avatar
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    #1

    Question Comment on this sentence

    Would you please tell me whether the following sentence is correct or not?
    Also, please tell me why?

    - By the time Alan had finished work, it was very late.

    You know that " By the time " must be followed by
    past simple but here it's followed by past perfect. So, I think it's wrong and
    should be as follows:

    By the time Alan finished work , it had been very late

    We can also say
    By the time Alan finished work , it was very late

    NOTICE: I know that we can use other tenses such as present and future, but I'm asking the past perfect.

    I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thanks in advance


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    #2

    Re: Comment on this sentence

    I think that the sentence By the time Alan had finished work, it was very late is a sort of time clause similar to the combination of before + past perfect + simple past where the simple past action will always precede the past perfect action: Before we had walked ten miles he complained of sore feet. (A Practical English Grammar by Thomson and Martinet, fourth edition, entry 195 B, p.177)

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    #3

    Re: Comment on this sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by xpert View Post
    Would you please tell me whether the following sentence is correct or not?
    Also, please tell me why?

    - By the time Alan had finished work, it was very late.

    You know that " By the time " must be followed by
    past simple but here it's followed by past perfect. So, I think it's wrong and
    should be as follows:

    By the time Alan finished work , it had been very late

    We can also say
    By the time Alan finished work , it was very late

    NOTICE: I know that we can use other tenses such as present and future, but I'm asking the past perfect.

    I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thanks in advance
    'By the time' can introduce a clause whose VP is aspectually perfective or imperfective: that is to say that it could be followed by 'have/had done' just as well as by 'do/did'. The choice of form will depend entirely on the intended meaning: perfective forms in cases of reference to the completion/culmination of an action , e.g. the oft-cited example

    By the time we had walked ten miles, we had sore feet.

    and imperfective forms where it is simply to the performance of an action, e.g.

    By the time the storm begins, we'll be home.

    Essentially the same set of choices exists with regard to the superordinate VP modified by the 'by the time' clause:

    By the time we had walked ten miles, we had developed some severe blisters.

    By the time the storm begins, we'll have arrived home.

    Therefore, both

    [1] By the time Alan had finished work, it was very late.

    and

    [2] By the time Alan finished work, it was very late.

    are structurally possible.

    Note, however, that your suggested sentence

    *By the time Alan finished work, it had been very late.

    - for reasons unrelated to the above - is not acceptable, since the main VP lacks the necessary complementation for this kind of stative expression (a for- or since-phrase, denoting the starting point of the state/condition).
    Last edited by philo2009; 21-Nov-2009 at 06:00.

  2. Soup's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Comment on this sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    'By the time' can introduce a clause whose VP is aspectually perfective or imperfective: that is to say that it could be followed by 'have/had done' just as well as by 'do/did'. The choice of form will depend entirely on the intended meaning: perfective forms in cases of reference to the completion/culmination of an action , e.g. the oft-cited example

    By the time we had walked ten miles, we had sore feet.

    and imperfective forms where it is simply to the performance of an action, e.g.

    By the time the storm begins, we'll be home.

    Essentially the same set of choices exists with regard to the superordinate VP modified by the 'by the time' clause:

    By the time we had walked ten miles, we had developed some severe blisters.

    By the time the storm begins, we'll have arrived home.

    Therefore, both

    [1] By the time Alan had finished work, it was very late.

    and

    [2] By the time Alan finished work, it was very late.

    are structurally possible.

    Note, however, that your suggested sentence

    *By the time Alan finished work, it had been very late.

    - for reasons unrelated to the above - is not acceptable, since the main VP lacks the necessary complementation for this kind of stative expression (a for- or since-phrase, denoting the starting point of the state/condition).

  3. xpert's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Comment on this sentence

    Philo2009

    Thanks a million
    You made it crystal clear

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    #6

    Re: Comment on this sentence



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    #7

    Re: Comment on this sentence

    xpert:

    May I ask? - when/why would you use:
    "By the time Alan finished work ..."
    and
    "By the time Alan had finished work..."

    This is a question to xpert.

  4. xpert's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Comment on this sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by Excalibur View Post
    xpert:

    May I ask? - when/why would you use:
    "By the time Alan finished work ..."

    and
    "By the time Alan had finished work..."

    This is a question to xpert.
    Both -past simple and past perfect- are possible. The meaning of the sentences depends on whether you want to emphasize that one event finished work happened before another (it was late)

    I think tense simplification plays a role here, right?

  5. Soup's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Comment on this sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by xpert View Post
    Both -past simple and past perfect- are possible. The meaning of the sentences depends on whether you want to emphasize that one event finished work happened before another (it was late)

    I think tense simplification plays a role here, right?
    Yes, it does.


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    #10

    Re: Comment on this sentence

    tense simplification

    Pardon me, but isn't that dumbing down? There is a reason why both are possible. That's why I suggested this should be clarified.

    Please also see https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/a...ould-have.html

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