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    #1

    simple past or past perfect?

    Dear teachers and native speakers,

    In the following paragraph why past perfect has been used in the last sentence? All the sentences are in simple past, so shouldn't the last sentence be in the simple past as well? For me as a nonnative it seems better to use simple past, but I would be grateful if you provide a good answer for me.

    "When he found out he was going to receive a $2 million payout in the lottery, he immediately gave up work, lent money to all his friends, whether or not they would be able to pay it back, and went out on a wild spending spree. Within months he had huge credit card debts and no money left to pay them. A year later, he had taken a job as a sales clerk to try to make ends meet."

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    #2

    Re: simple past or past perfect?

    Quote Originally Posted by haseli22 View Post
    A year later, he had taken a job as a sales clerk to try to make ends meet."

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    (1) I think that I understand the problem.

    (2) There is a big difference between "A year later, he took a job" and "A year later, he had [already] taken a job."

    (a) If you use the past, it means that he won the lottery in, say, January, 2011, and in January, 2012, he then took a job

    as a sales clerk (Americans prefer "sales associate." It sounds more elegant!).

    (b) If you use the past perfect, it means that he won in January, 2011, but in January, 2012, we find him already working

    as a sales associate. (Who knows? Maybe he ran out of lottery winnings in November, 2011, and started working as a sales

    associate in that month.)

  1. sumon.'s Avatar
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    #3

    Re: simple past or past perfect?

    Maybe he ran out of lottery winnings in November, 2011, and started working as a sales
    associate in that month.

    But there "A year later" mentioned clearly?



    Great explanation.
    But I still don't understand it.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: simple past or past perfect?

    Quote Originally Posted by sumon. View Post
    But I still don't understand it.
    Re-read TheParser's explanation carefully. I can't make it clearer than that.

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    #5

    Re: simple past or past perfect?

    Quote Originally Posted by sumon. View Post





    Great explanation.
    But I still don't understand it.
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Since you do not understand it, that means my explanation is NOT great.

    "A year later, he had [already] become a sales associate." That sentence seems to confuse you.

    You will remember that the past perfect refers to something that happened before something else happened:

    "He had studied English before he came to the United States." Well, he came to the States in 2008. So that means he

    must have studied English before 2008.

    That guy won the lottery in January, 2011. A year later (January, 2012), someone knocked on his door. When he opened the

    door, the lottery winner looked very sad. When asked what the problem was, the lottery winner said:

    "Well, by November, 2011, all of my lottery money was gone. So I had to get a job as a sales associate. Nobody knew my

    secret until you knocked on my door exactly one year after my having won the lottery."

    *****

    If you still do not understand, please let us know. I am sure that someone else can do a better job in

    explaining the matter.

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    #6

    Re: simple past or past perfect?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    Since you do not understand it, that means my explanation is NOT great.

    If you still do not understand, please let us know. I am sure that someone else can do a better job in explaining the matter.
    Don't put yourself down. Your explanation was fine.

  4. sumon.'s Avatar
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    #7

    Re: simple past or past perfect?

    Since you do not understand it, that means my explanation is NOT great.
    . No, probably I meant my brain was dull. Your explanation was awesome.

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    #8

    Re: simple past or past perfect?

    Dear Parser,
    Can the following interpretation be correct regarding the use of past perfect in the above paragraph?
    While simple past would work simply to narrate events, I suspect that the author chose the past perfect tense (normally used to describe an action begun/completed before another action) to suggest that the clerk job was temporary in nature, and that he would quit the job once he found a better position (or received the lottery disbursement?).

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    #9

    Re: simple past or past perfect?

    You have asked an excellent question. I am afraid of giving a wrong or misleading answer. So I shall leave your question to

    a more qualified person than I to answer.

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    #10

    Re: simple past or past perfect?

    Hi 5jj,
    Would you please provide me with an answer to my question?

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