Re: I thought people only use past perfect tense to dipict an earlier past event
Originally Posted by e2e4
1. I had seen him before he saw me.
2. I saw him before he had seen me.
These two sentences do not have completely the same meaning for me, a learner. What for Why?
In #1 "I had seen him" is a completed action in the deep past.before he saw me. But he saw me as well!!!
( In #2 I saw him ~ a completed action in the past)
In #2 "before he had seen me" was an intention only. He either hadn't seen me at all or at least he hadn't seen me first!!! The intention wasn't fulfilled. His intention had been to had had me seen me before I saw him.Also it could have been my imagination only that it had been his intention.
How one can say then that #1 and#2 tell the same have the same meaning?
I don't think anybody has claimed they have the same meaning.
Anyway regarding these two sentences I repeated a few times I would say the next below
Between As well as all its all other, but more normal, usages, the Pluperfect Tense is also used in phrases in which it expresses either possible or even imaginary intention that either should or could have happened before the other action happened at the time of speaking in the past, but happening by way of interrupting or disabling the intention expressed by the past perfect.
Now I ask myself is in #2 "had seen" the past perfect subjunctive actually? With the exception of BE, no verb in English has a distinguishable form for the past subjunctive, and even BE has no distinguishable form for the past perfect subjunctive. That being so, the question of whether it is subjunctive or not is largely irrelevant in modern English.
I agree with you, in general terms at least. We disagree seriously only when you attempt to transfer your conclusions from these examples to the one that we were discussing originally (The daily exercises lasted only eleven minutes and I proposed to do them early in the morning before anyone had got up) and say that this is "wrong usage". it isn't.