Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 21
  1. Graver's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 64
    #1

    Red face Past Perfect/Past Simple

    Hi!
    I was just leafing through a grammar book and I came across this sentence:

    "I felt bad after lunch. I had eaten or (surprisingly!!!) ate too much"

    The key at the back of the book says that ate is possible but it's colloquial. In what sense is the Past Simple tense used colloquially in this context??? If I were asked to choose any tense that'd fit here I'd go with the Past Perfect without any hesitation... I had eaten to much before and the result is that I had an upset stomach afterwards... This is how I would understand that. So what do you guys think?
    Thank you!

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Jan 2009
    • Posts: 3,564
    #2

    Re: Past Perfect/Past Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Graver View Post
    Hi!
    I was just leafing through a grammar book and I came across this sentence:

    "I felt bad after lunch. I had eaten or (surprisingly!!!) ate too much"

    The key at the back of the book says that ate is possible but it's colloquial. In what sense is the Past Simple tense used colloquially in this context??? If I were asked to choose any tense that'd fit here I'd go with the Past Perfect without any hesitation... I had eaten to much before and the result is that I had an upset stomach afterwards... This is how I would understand that. So what do you guys think?
    Thank you!
    First, let me make sure I understand the question. My guess is that the original quote was: "I felt bad after lunch. I had eaten too much." And you're wondering if ate can replace had eaten.

    Yes, it can. The speaker did feel bad, and the speaker did eat too much. So it makes sense and is grammatical.

    However, you seem to prefer had eaten. I agree with you. Had eaten tells us that the speaker finished eating first, then felt bad. So it implies a cause and effect. To me, that's a more interesting sentence.

    On the other hand, Ernest Hemingway would have disagreed. He made his fortune with lines like: "I ate lunch. I ate too much. I felt bad. The wine was red. The hills were brown."

    So it's mostly a matter of taste. But I think you might be a better writer than old Papa Hemingway....

    [I edit writing and have tutored college writing.]
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 17-Feb-2009 at 22:51.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Germany
      • Current Location:
      • Germany

    • Join Date: Aug 2008
    • Posts: 92
    #3

    Re: Past Perfect/Past Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Graver View Post
    Hi!
    I was just leafing through a grammar book and I came across this sentence:

    "I felt bad after lunch. I had eaten or (surprisingly!!!) ate too much"

    Thank you!
    I'm not a teacher, not even a student.

    I think so:

    1. I have eaten. - British English. (Present Perfect)
    2. I ate. - American English. (Past Simple)

    1. and 2. mean the same.(Especially with "already")

    But I had eaten. (Past Perfect). We use Past Perfect in this case for harmony of tenses.

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

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

    Re: Past Perfect/Past Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicky_K View Post
    I'm not a teacher, not even a student.


    But I had eaten. (Past Perfect). We use Past Perfect in this case for harmony of tenses.
    what harmony of tenses?

    And if perfect tense is better and you want harmony of tenses, why don't you say 'I had felt bad after lunch. I had eaten too much.'

    Simple past is all one needs to be correct. 'I felt bad after lunch. I ate too much.'
    (or even better) 'I felt bad after lunch because I ate too much.'

    And one doesn't need perfect tense to tell us that "the speaker finished eating first, then felt bad".
    "after lunch" tells us that.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Germany
      • Current Location:
      • Germany

    • Join Date: Aug 2008
    • Posts: 92
    #5

    Re: Past Perfect/Past Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    what harmony of tenses?

    And if perfect tense is better and you want harmony of tenses, why don't you say 'I had felt bad after lunch. I had eaten too much.'

    Simple past is all one needs to be correct. 'I felt bad after lunch. I ate too much.'
    (or even better)

    And one doesn't need perfect tense to tell us that "the speaker finished eating first, then felt bad".
    "after lunch" tells us that.
    I didn't say that Perfect Tense is better. I agree with you, I would say so too - 'I felt bad after lunch because I ate too much.'
    Logically clear which action was first. We don't need harmony of tenses or smth. like this.

    But there are 24 tenses (or more) and we use only maybe 5 from them
    in daily speech. I just showed why we could use Past Perfect in this case.
    In "classical" English we should use Perfect Tense in sentences like this, I think.
    Anyway it's just my point of view.


  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Ireland

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 25,596
    #6

    Re: Past Perfect/Past Simple

    In "classical" English we should use Perfect Tense in sentences like this, I think.
    Anyway it's just my point of view.

    Past simple in this type of situation is bland, impoverished language.


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #7

    Re: Past Perfect/Past Simple

    2006: And if perfect tense is better and you want harmony of tenses, why don't you say 'I had felt bad after lunch. I had eaten too much.'

    We wouldn't write that, because the 'eating too much' must have occurred before 'felt bad', yet comes second in the sequence of tenses.

    I would write:
    "I felt bad after lunch. (I think) I ate too much."
    It is not mandatory to use the Past Perfect IF the meaning of the sentence is not obscured. It is quite obvious that the 'feeling bad' would occur after over-eating.
    "I felt bad after lunch. I had eaten too much" sounds 'precious' (=affectedly concerned with elegant or refined behavior, language, or manners).

    Compare these two sentences:
    I punched him because he hit me over the head with his bat.
    I punched him because he had hit me over the head with his bat.

    The sequence of events is quite clear without the use of the Past Perfect.
    Last edited by David L.; 18-Feb-2009 at 15:01.

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

    • Join Date: Feb 2009
    • Posts: 172
    #8

    Re: Past Perfect/Past Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Graver View Post
    Hi!
    I was just leafing through a grammar book and I came across this sentence:

    "I felt bad after lunch. I had eaten or (surprisingly!!!) ate too much"

    The key at the back of the book says that ate is possible but it's colloquial. In what sense is the Past Simple tense used colloquially in this context??? If I were asked to choose any tense that'd fit here I'd go with the Past Perfect without any hesitation... I had eaten to much before and the result is that I had an upset stomach afterwards... This is how I would understand that. So what do you guys think?
    Thank you!
    For me,

    1) the best answer would be using the past perfect.
    2) Yes, you can also use the past simple here because there is no confusion as to which of the two actions happened first.

    You only really need to use the Past Perfect to emphasise that one action clearly happened before the other. as in;

    a) The police arrived but the criminals had run away.
    b) The police arrived but the criminals ran away.

    Here in the second sentence we understand that the criminals ran away AFTER the police arrived (had arrived).

    In the sentence you wrote, there is no confusion as to which action happened first. It's quite clear that the reason you felt bad was because you ate (had eaten) too much;

    "I felt bad after lunch. I had eaten or (surprisingly!!!) ate too much"

    Note; By using words such as "after" and "because" you can often avoid the need for the Past Perfect as they do away with any misinterpretation.


    The only other reason you might want to choose to use Past Perfectwould be for register to make it sound more formal or for effect.
    If you were writing a formal piece of writing a letter of complaint and so on for instance it would be more appropriate.

    In informal, spoken English it is quite common to just use the past simple unless there is any ambiguity.

    Still, I would say that the best grammatical answer in British English would be;

    I felt sick after lunch. I had eaten too much.

    Moreover, If it were a question on a multiple choice paper and both the Past Simple and Past Perfect were offered as options. I think Past Perfect would be the best choice.

  4. bhaisahab's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Ireland

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 25,596
    #9

    Re: Past Perfect/Past Simple

    Still, I would say that the best grammatical answer in British English would be;

    I felt sick after lunch. I had eaten too much.

    Moreover, If it were a question on a multiple choice paper and both the Past Simple and Past Perfect were offered as options. I think Past Perfect would be the best choice.


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

    • Join Date: Feb 2009
    • Posts: 172
    #10

    Re: Past Perfect/Past Simple

    Cheers Bhaisab!

    I agreed with your earlier statement.
    It does make it sound bland!

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] Totally lost - Past simple
    By engpoem in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 02-Oct-2008, 06:41
  2. [Grammar] Past simple VS present perfect simple
    By engpoem in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-Oct-2008, 05:44
  3. Is Yesterday a past time?
    By shun in forum General Language Discussions
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 13-Feb-2008, 19:54
  4. simple past - past perfect continuous interrogativedifferences
    By Unregistered9996 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 26-Dec-2007, 04:05
  5. A strange use of tense
    By shun in forum Linguistics
    Replies: 26
    Last Post: 18-Sep-2006, 02:45

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
  •