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    #1

    Past Perfect question

    Hi,

    I am not exactly sure when to use past perfect tense and when not to.

    Example, where past perfect tense is used.

    I haven't seen that many taxi cars crossing a junction at once before I arrived in Manhattan.

    I understand why past perfect tensed is used here.

    Why past perfect tense is not used in the following sentence?

    I walked the long path that led to the house and knocked on the door.

    Is it because both actions took place at about the same moment in the past?

    If I walked for hours that path, would past perfect tense to be used?

    For several hours I had walked the long path that led to the house and knocked on the door.

    I'd appreciate your clarification.

    Thank you.

  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Past Perfect question

    Quote Originally Posted by nat1ve View Post
    I haven't seen that many taxi cars crossing a junction at once before I arrived in Manhattan.

    I understand why past perfect tensed is used here.
    You have used a present perfect. The past perfect hadn't seen would be correct.

    Why is the past perfect tense is not used in the following sentence?

    I walked the long path that led to the house and knocked on the door.

    Is it because both actions took place at about the same moment in the past?
    No, but the sequence of past events is clear.
    If I walked for hours that path, would past perfect tense to be used?

    For several hours I had walked the long path that led to the house and knocked on the door.
    No.

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    #3

    Re: Past Perfect question

    Quote Originally Posted by nat1ve View Post
    I am not exactly sure when to use past perfect tense and when not to.
    The short answer is: use a perfect tense when the aspect is retrospective.

    Your first sentence(, corrected by Piscean to I hadn't seen...,) is retrospective. When you saw the taxis in Manhattan, it made you look back at your experience up to that point in order to make a comparison - to put it into perspective.


    Your second sentence is simply two past simple, sequenced verbs. There's no retrospection here - there's no indication that when you reach the door, you're looking back at the long walk.

    It really doesn't matter how close together or for how long the actions occurred.

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    #4

    Re: Past Perfect question

    Thank you very much guys!

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