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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    sequence of past tenses

    Hello,
    I got some serious doubts about sequence of tenses in a sentence below:

    "Her husband was woken by a noise and had gone downstairs to discover thieves had broken into the house and stolen the keys."

    The undeniable sequence of events is like this:

    1. first he was woken up by the noise
    2. Then he went downstairs
    3. He discovered thieves had broken into the house and stolen the keys.

    and in real order of events:

    1. thieves stole the keys
    2. Noise made by thieves woke him up
    3. he went downstrairs
    4. he discovered the keys were missing

    So in my opinion the sentence should read:

    "Her husband was woken by a noise and went downstairs to discover thieves had broken into the house and stolen the keys."

    or

    "Her husband had been woken by a noise and went downstairs to discover thieves had broken into the house and stolen the keys."

    Does it make sense?

    regards




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    #2

    Re: sequence of past tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Berwedonzer View Post
    Hello,
    I got have [or 've got] some serious doubts about sequence of tenses in a the following sentence below:

    0. "Her husband was woken by a noise and had gone downstairs to discover thieves had broken into the house and stolen the keys."
    See corrections above. You're right; the tenses in sentence 0 are not natural.

    Quote Originally Posted by Berwedonzer View Post
    1. "Her husband was woken by a noise and went downstairs to discover thieves had broken into the house and stolen the keys."

    or

    2. "Her husband had been woken by a noise. He and went downstairs to discover thieves had broken into the house and stolen the keys."
    Sentence 1 is correct. I split number 2 into two sentences because in this construction, the reader will tend to keep the "had been" in mind and expect a past participle after the conjunction, even though that wouldn't work. For example: He had been awakened by the earthquake and thrown out of bed.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #3

    Re: sequence of past tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    See corrections above. You're right; the tenses in sentence 0 are not natural.



    Sentence 1 is correct. I split number 2 into two sentences because in this construction, the reader will tend to keep the "had been" in mind and expect a past participle after the conjunction, even though that wouldn't work. For example: He had been awakened by the earthquake and thrown out of bed.
    Thank you,


    It's so surprising this unnatural sequence of tenses was used in the article of one of UK's leading daily newspapers.

    regards

  4. Piscean's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: sequence of past tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Berwedonzer View Post
    It's so surprising this unnatural sequence of tenses was used in the article of one of UK's leading daily newspapers.
    It's not at all surprising to me, and it's not really unnatural.

    Native speakers use (or do not use) the past perfect in a far less logical manner than some course books and student grammars suggest. The 'rules' you sometimes read are in fact simply guidelines. If you follow them, you will produce acceptable utterances. Don't be surprised if native speakers appear at times to be totally ignorant of the rules.
    Last edited by teechar; 24-Apr-2017 at 21:12. Reason: typos

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    #5

    Re: sequence of past tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Berwedonzer View Post
    It's so surprising this unnatural sequence of tenses was used in the article of one of UK's leading daily newspapers.
    Writing and editing errors happen. It's also possible that text before the quoted excerpt makes the choice of tenses logical.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #6

    Re: sequence of past tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Berwedonzer View Post

    It's so surprising this unnatural sequence of tenses was used in the article in one of the UK's leading daily newspapers.
    Which newspaper, Berwedonzer?

    In future posts, please give the source of any quoted text in post #1 rather than #3.

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    #7

    Re: sequence of past tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    Which newspaper, Berwedonzer?

    In future posts, please give the source of any quoted text in post #1 rather than #3.
    I'm not quite sure if I may post links but I'll try:

    Original sentence in the article is as follows (in my erlier post I edited it a little bit):
    "Her chartered engineer husband was woken by a noise and had gone downstairs to discover thieves had broken into the house and stolen the keys to his £35,000 Audi S3."

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    #8

    Re: sequence of past tenses

    I think it is better with "went downstairs to discover..."

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