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    #1

    Past Perfect Homework

    Hello,

    I'm supposed to make up a context to these sentences:

    (1) "She had been worrying ever since the letter arrived."
    (2) "She had been worrying ever since the letter had arrived."

    Personally, I don't like the second sentence, because it sounds unusual to me and I don't see the difference at all (if there is an actual difference). Nonetheless, I've got to carry out the task, so here is my suggestion:

    (1)
    My mother used to be a happy person. One day a letter arrived. In fact, she had been worrying ever since the letter arrived.

    (2)
    My mother finally felt relieved. In fact, she had been worrying ever since the letter had arrived.

    Do you think it could work?

    As usual, thank you in advance!

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Past Perfect Homework

    After first noting that we can't help with homework because your teacher needs to see what you can do and not what we can do, I will say that I agree with you. I can't see any useful difference between 1 and 2, and find 2 to be awkward. That makes this assignment rather pointless, in my view.

    However, perhaps another user will find a compelling difference between 1 and 2 and will make a strong case for 2.

    I will also tell you that your first sentence won't work. It would work with "she has been worrying" but not "she had been worrying."
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: Past Perfect Homework

    First of all, I didn't ask you to do my homework, but help me find some inspiration. I was wondering what your opinion on what I'd created would be. I didn't say I was going to use what you'd say as my official homework paper.

    As for the first sentence, I used the past perfect in the first one, because the story(line) is (obviously) written in the past tense. Therefore, I think that the usage of the present perfect progressive would be intolerable (I guess that's what my teacher would tell me supposing I'd handed in a story with such a sentence).

    Regarding the second sentence, I used the past perfect in the main clause because I'm saying how long something had been happening (but was not at the point of "feeling relieved") up to another past situation (a time frame). I used the past perfect in the subordinate clause because I'm talking about what had already happened before the frame. I suppose if I hadn't used it (but I did), the reader might become confused. Moreover, I'd have found the construction illogical (at the time of writing). Now I find it rather atypical.
    Last edited by Jakub1606; 30-Aug-2013 at 18:50. Reason: mistake

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Past Perfect Homework

    And *I* didn't say we don't *DO* homework, I said we can't *HELP* with homework.

    I assure you "she has been" works in the first sentence and "she had been" does not. There has been no intervening event that stopped the worry.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #5

    Re: Past Perfect Homework

    But what if there were? E.g. "In fact, she had been worrying ever since the letter arrived. She died in 1994." What do you think about it?

    If the first sentence you've just written is true, then woe to students who get stuck with their homework; learning/studying English hasn't been particularly easy for me even though I've been doing it for 12 years.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Past Perfect Homework

    Quote Originally Posted by Jakub1606 View Post
    But what if there were? E.g. "In fact, she had been worrying ever since the letter arrived. She died in 1994." What do you think about it?

    If the first sentence you've just written is true, then woe to students who get stuck with their homework; learning/studying English hasn't been particularly easy for me even though I've been doing it for 12 years.
    Homework assigned by a teacher serves several purposes. For the student, it supplements the lessons that have been taught in the classroom and it allows time for practice. For the teacher, it provides valuable feedback for the teacher about how well the lessons have been understood and about an individual's mastery of the subject. If some students receive homework help from outside teachers and other students do not, it alters the information the teacher receives. The teacher is not interested in what we know or do.

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    #7

    Re: Past Perfect Homework

    I don't want to impugn the meaning of homework. What you've written is basically what I agree with, but you may help students understand the subject better if you help them with their homework and explain to them what they should have done, how they should have done it... You never know what type of problem has caused that a student is seeking help. With all due respect, but instead of being proud of "what you know or do", you had better try to understand them, because teachers ought to help students, that's why they are teachers - they teach them, they educate them, they help them to form their personality. Nota bene, you shouldn't also forget that you used to be a student as well.

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Past Perfect Homework

    Quote Originally Posted by Jakub1606 View Post
    I don't want to impugn the meaning of homework. What you've written is basically what I agree with, but you may help students understand the subject better if you help them with their homework and explain to them what they should have done, how they should have done it... You never know what type of problem has caused that a student is seeking help. With all due respect, but instead of being proud of "what you know or do", you had better try to understand them, because teachers ought to help students, that's why they are teachers - they teach them, they educate them, they help them to form their personality. Nota bene, you shouldn't also forget that you used to be a student as well.
    Thanks for the lecture. Anything else?

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Past Perfect Homework

    Quote Originally Posted by Jakub1606 View Post
    I don't want to impugn the meaning of homework. What you've written is basically what I agree with, but you may help students understand the subject better if you help them with their homework and explain to them what they should have done, how they should have done it... You never know what type of problem has caused that a student is seeking help. With all due respect, but instead of being proud of "what you know or do", you had better try to understand them, because teachers ought to help students, that's why they are teachers - they teach them, they educate them, they help them to form their personality. Nota bene, you shouldn't also forget that you used to be a student as well.
    The part of your post which I have enlarged and marked in red above is a very important point. Barb and MNY explained that we can't help with homework - what we mean by that is that we cannot and will not help with it before it is submitted to the teacher. As explained, that is because the teacher has no interest in seeing what the student can do with the help of a forum full of native speakers. The teacher needs to see what the student can do alone.

    However, after a piece of homework has been submitted, marked and given back to the student, we are more than happy to look at the errors, corrections and comments and then try to explain to the student where they went wrong. On that basis, your suggestion that we should "explain to them what they should have done, how they should have done it" is absolutely fine. We are happy to do it in arrears but not in advance.

    We all understand that some students find learning a language very difficult but that doesn't change our stance on helping with homework in advance - for us, that is tantamount to the student cheating which, of course, we would not support.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  6. 5jj's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Past Perfect Homework

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    We all understand that some students find learning a language very difficult but that doesn't change our stance on helping with homework in advance - for us, that is tantamount to the student cheating which, of course, we would not support.
    That is so important, that it bears repeating.

    Actually, so are Mike's points.

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