Results 1 to 7 of 7

    • Join Date: Sep 2006
    • Posts: 48
    #1

    Auxiliary (had)

    She had learned earlier that the owner had died some years before.

    Why are there two hads in the sentence above? Can the sentence be written: "She learned earlier that the owner had died some years before"? If the sentence can be written with only one had, would the meaning be changed?

    Also, what is before, a preposition? What is it modifying/describing: years?

    Thank you very much.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Apr 2007
    • Posts: 4,146
    #2

    Re: Auxiliary (had)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cooklava View Post
    She had learned earlier that the owner had died some years before.

    Why are there two hads in the sentence above? Can the sentence be written: "She learned earlier that the owner had died some years before"?
    If the sentence can be written with only one had, would the meaning be changed? I am interested to know what you think.

    And if it 'needs' only one "had", why is it the second one?

    Also, what is before, a preposition? What is it modifying/describing: years?

    Thank you very much.
    2006


    • Join Date: Sep 2006
    • Posts: 48
    #3

    Re: Auxiliary (had)

    She had entered the room before he returned.

    In the above sentence, the "had" indicates one action occurring before another (her entering the room before his return).

    In the original post:

    She had learned earlier that the owner had died some years before.

    I'm not certain about it. If I am to guess, I'd say that a conversation was taking place about a man whom she had already known was deceased. In this case, I wouldn't know why the second had is needed. This is my best explanation. Am I close to being correct?

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Apr 2007
    • Posts: 4,146
    #4

    Re: Auxiliary (had)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cooklava View Post
    She had entered the room before he returned.

    In the above sentence, the "had" indicates one action occurring before another (her entering the room before his return). But "before" indicates one action occurring before another, so what does "had" add? Using "had" may sound better to people who use it a lot, but maybe it isn't always necessary. Does the meaning suffer without the "had"?

    In the original post:

    She had learned earlier that the owner had died some years before.
    Again there are the two time words, "earlier" and "before". Do you think the "add's are needed? Does the meaning change without them? Maybe using "had"s a lot is just a style or habit.
    I'm not certain about it. If I am to guess, I'd say that a conversation was taking place about a man whom she had already known was deceased. I don't know if it's a conversation or not, but I agree with you. In this case, I wouldn't know why the second had is needed. Maybe it's not needed. I apologize for playing with you, but I am trying to get you to form your own opinion about whether the "had"s are needed. This is my best explanation. Am I close to being correct?
    2006


    • Join Date: Sep 2006
    • Posts: 48
    #5

    Re: Auxiliary (had)

    She learned of his death. (sometime in the past)
    She has learned of his death. (maybe a moment ago)
    She had learned of his death. (a while back)

    She learned earlier . . . . (seems to imply an action in the past, but not too long ago)

    She had learned earlier . . . . (the "earlier," in this case, with the added had seems to suggest days or weeks earlier)

    I may be incorrect, but I think that is the author's intended meaning.

    I do hope that when I get to the point of knowing the mechanics of grammar much better, I'll be able to offer an explanation with a lot more confidence. Right now, however, I'm on standing on somewhat shaky legs.

    Thank you for your pointing out the differences.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Apr 2007
    • Posts: 4,146
    #6

    Re: Auxiliary (had)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cooklava View Post
    Now you changed the sentence structure, and there are no time words in the 3 short sentences below. Of course all of the following 3 short sentences just mean 'She knows he's dead.' and would rarely if ever be used exactly as written and without context.
    She learned of his death. (sometime in the past)
    She has learned of his death. (maybe a moment ago)
    She had learned of his death. (a while back)


    She learned earlier . . . . (seems to imply an action in the past, but not too long ago) Maybe, but we can also say 'She just learned (four hours)(three days) ago....' and then we can be sure, if that is important.

    She had learned earlier . . . . (the "earlier," in this case, with the added had seems to suggest days or weeks earlier) How about months or years earlier?

    Understand that I'm not talking about creative writing; I'm just talking about basic correct and clear English.

    I may be incorrect, but I think that is the author's intended meaning.

    I do hope that when I get to the point of knowing the mechanics of grammar much better, I'll be able to offer an explanation with a lot more confidence. Right now, however, I'm on standing on somewhat shaky legs.

    Thank you for your pointing out the differences.
    I would say that "before" is an adverb modifying "died".
    2006


    • Join Date: Sep 2006
    • Posts: 48
    #7

    Re: Auxiliary (had)

    Afterthought.

    The best solution to the problem you describe would be to eliminate the vague time-word "earlier" and insert a more specific modifier:

    One hour ago, she learned of his death.
    Yesterday, she learned of his death.
    Last week, she learned of his death.

    This way there isn't any time uncertainty that comes with the cloudy earlier.

    I posted this before reading your response. When I read your response, I noticed you mentioned the more specific time modifiers also. Being specific eliminates a lot of unnecessaries. Thanks, again, for your help.
    Last edited by Cooklava; 06-Feb-2008 at 19:54.

Similar Threads

  1. Questions without an auxiliary verb
    By Seagull in forum Teaching English
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 10-Dec-2008, 17:45
  2. Any good ideas for teaching auxiliary responses?
    By chrisdev in forum Teaching English
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 19-Dec-2007, 12:27
  3. Auxiliary verbs
    By notmyname216 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 19-Oct-2005, 12:54

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
  •