Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 15
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Vietnamese
      • Home Country:
      • Vietnam
      • Current Location:
      • Vietnam

    • Join Date: Jul 2016
    • Posts: 4
    #1

    Using "as if" with past perfect tense

    1. He talked as if he knew eveything.
    2. She ran as if a ghost had been running after her.

    In the second sentence, there was no ghost after her, so we use past perfect tense. But in the first sentence, he couldn't know everything, so I think we should use past perfect tense instead of past simple tense. But my teacher told me that we must use past simple tense in this sentence. I still don't understand why. Please explain it to me.
    Last edited by binha10k12; 07-Jul-2016 at 16:19.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Dec 2015
    • Posts: 9,317
    #2

    Re: Using "as if" with past perfect tense

    Number 1 is correct if you fix everything. The past perfect would be OK in certain contexts but it's unlikely; it would cast the knowing into a further past. For example, We were certain he knew nothing about it at the time of the crime, but he talked as if he had known everything.

    Number 2 needs the subjunctive continuous, at least in AmE: She ran as if a ghost were running after her.
    I am not a teacher.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 57,888
    #3

    Re: Using "as if" with past perfect tense

    Quote Originally Posted by binha10k12 View Post
    In the second sentence, there was no ghost after her, so we use past perfect tense.
    I don't follow the logic behind this idea.

  1. Matthew Wai's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • Hong Kong

    • Join Date: Nov 2013
    • Posts: 7,825
    #4

    Re: Using "as if" with past perfect tense

    Quote Originally Posted by binha10k12 View Post
    2. She ran as if a ghost had run after her.
    I think 'had run' refers to the time before she ran instead of the time when she ran, and it doesn't suggest an unreal situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I don't follow the logic behind this idea.
    I think the OP's logic is that it refers to an unreal situation when it goes back one tense.
    Last edited by Matthew Wai; 07-Jul-2016 at 11:27.
    I am not a teacher.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 6,332
    #5

    Re: Using "as if" with past perfect tense

    Quote Originally Posted by binha10k12 View Post

    I think we should use past perfect tense instead of past simple tense.
    NOT A TEACHER

    Hello, Binha:

    I have found some information that may interest you.

    Four world-respected grammarians say that these three sentences are all correct English:

    1. She treated me as though I was a stranger.

    2. She treated me as though I were a stranger.

    3. She treated me as though I had been a stranger.


    Quirk, et al., A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (1985 edition), page 1110.

  2. Matthew Wai's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • Hong Kong

    • Join Date: Nov 2013
    • Posts: 7,825
    #6

    Re: Using "as if" with past perfect tense

    I think 'She ran as if a ghost had been running after her' is also possible.
    I am not a teacher.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Dec 2015
    • Posts: 9,317
    #7

    Re: Using "as if" with past perfect tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    I think 'She ran as if a ghost had been running after her' is also possible.
    It's not likely though. If a ghost had been running after her, we understand that it stopped. In that case, why was she still running?
    I am not a teacher.

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • Hong Kong

    • Join Date: Nov 2013
    • Posts: 7,825
    #8

    Re: Using "as if" with past perfect tense

    Does the past perfect continuous refer to an action that must have stopped?
    I am not a teacher.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Dec 2015
    • Posts: 9,317
    #9

    Re: Using "as if" with past perfect tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    Does the past perfect continuous refer to an action that must have stopped?
    Not necessarily. It could be nearly complete: She'd been working all day, but she knew that if she just finished one more step, the work would be complete. Or it could be ongoing: He'd been splitting rocks in the prison yard for three years. He knew he would still be splitting rocks for another ten years.
    I am not a teacher.

  4. Piscean's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • Czech Republic
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Jul 2015
    • Posts: 9,986
    #10

    Re: Using "as if" with past perfect tense

    Not necessarily. It depends on the context. In the context of your suggested sentence, the past perfect would suggest that the action had stopped.

    (Cross-posted with GS)

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] Simple Past or Past Perfect for describing "first time" experience
    By Maysey13 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 23-Jan-2013, 08:55
  2. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 21-Jun-2012, 11:33
  3. [Grammar] Is it optional to use past perfect tense after "After"
    By kwfine in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 22-Jun-2011, 10:39
  4. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 28-Dec-2006, 04:24
  5. difference BTW "past perfect" and "sim perfect"
    By endeavor6636 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 23-Jul-2006, 07:13

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •