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    #1

    Past Perfect and "before"

    Hello,

    I was reading up on the use of Past Perfect and found this example.

    They were given help and advice BEFORE they had made (or made) the decision.

    The point the writer is trying to make here is that when the order of the event is clear from the time expression used in the context, we can use either Past Perfect or Past Simple.

    I agree with the writer's point, but I think the part that could be in the Past Perfect form should be "be given help or advice" because that event took place BEFORE the decision was made. For me, it is more logical to say:

    They were given (or had been given) help and advice before they made the decision.

    Am I wrong here? I have been thinking it over and over in my head and I couldn't understand how the sentence could be what the grammar book says.

    Please help.

    Nawee

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Past Perfect and "before"

    Quote Originally Posted by naweewra View Post
    Hello,

    I was reading up on the use of Past Perfect and found this example.

    They were given help and advice BEFORE they had made (or made) the decision.

    The point the writer is trying to make here is that when the order of the event is clear from the time expression used in the context, we can use either Past Perfect or Past Simple.

    I agree with the writer's point, but I think the part that could be in the Past Perfect form should be "be given help or advice" because that event took place BEFORE the decision was made. For me, it is more logical to say:

    They were given (or had been given) help and advice before they made the decision.

    Am I wrong here? I have been thinking it over and over in my head and I couldn't understand how the sentence could be what the grammar book says.

    Please help.

    Nawee
    You are correct. The past perfect can be used to establish the sequence of past events. In your case, the past perfect would be used in the first clause because that describes the earlier event. However, the word "before" establishes the sequence of events without a change in verb tense. That makes the use of the past perfect unnecessary, but it can also be correct.

    So, you have a choice: "They were given help and advice before they made the decision". "They had been given help and advice before they made the decision".

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Past Perfect and "before"

    Whatever the logic, you will often hear and see sentences such as: "They were given help and advice before they had made the decision". Huddleston & Pullum (CGLE, 2002.147) give, without comment on its acceptability, the example "She left after/as soon as/before he had spoken to her". They say merely that the form spoke is also acceptable.
    Last edited by 5jj; 14-Feb-2014 at 07:51.

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