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    #1

    past perfect

    We use the past perfect to give emphasis to an action which happened first...and When we ask question we use the word 'before" like, "what had you done before you got to class today?" is it possible to use 'after" in asking question using the past perfect?My friend said: 'what had you done after your class yesterday" I think, it's wrong.

    Please help us.Thanks!


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
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    #2

    Re: past perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by chum View Post
    We use the past perfect to give emphasis to an action which happened first...and When we ask question we use the word 'before" like, "what had you done before you got to class today?" is it possible to use 'after" in asking question using the past perfect?My friend said: 'what had you done after your class yesterday" I think, it's wrong.
    Please help us.Thanks!
    It's not so much that it's wrong, Chum, for grammatically it WOULD work; it's just that it's so damn inappropriate for the context/situation. ENLs just don't use it for such benign questions.

    Many ESLs think they can use it for every situation just because they've heard a rule about one action before another. That happens countless times in English and yet we don't make use of the past perfect.

    Even,

    "what had you done before you got to class today?",

    is not a natural use of the past perfect unless there is something in the surrounding context that warrants/justifies its use.

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    #3

    Re: past perfect

    I agree with Riverkid that it's not a natural use; we would use it when we wished to emphasise that the earlier events were completed before school. If I were angry and thought that the person was wasting their time and should have studied before going to school, I might use it, but if it's just a normal question about events before school, then the simple past makes much more sense.
    We often use the past perfect when we could use it- I would recommend using it when the sequence of events is important and there is a need to emphasise completion before another past event.

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    #4

    Re: past perfect

    i see. It's just that, there's one grammar book i really trust,it was written by Betty Azar...and I found that question there." What had you done before you got to class today?" but agree to you that we use past perfect if there's a need to emphasize one action and if a simple past will do, then I should just go to simple past.

    thanks!

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    #5

    Re: past perfect

    Sometimes in grammar books, they produce sentences to illustrate usage that don't reflect the realities, and I think this is one of those- ashe's trying to show that the past perfect is used for the first of two past actions, and an example that could easily be used in the classroom. Unfortunately, she has chosen a question that very few native speakers would ask- it's a big book and there will be a few sentences that aren't the best, but that doesn't undermine the whole book.

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