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  1. Newbie
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    • Join Date: Sep 2007
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    #1

    Perfect Tense and "Ago"

    I learned that ago cannot be used in perfect tense.
    Then the following sentence is grammatically incorrect?

    1) Supernova may appear to be stars which have just exploded, but in actuality they had already exploded "millions of years ago."
    2) I lost the book that Mother "had bought" me "three weeks ago"


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #2

    Re: Perfect Tense and "Ago"

    Then the following sentences are grammatically incorrect?
    YES

    1) Supernova may appear to be stars that have just exploded, but in actuality, they exploded millions of years ago.

    2) I lost the book that Mother bought me three weeks ago.

    The use of Past Perfect tense is unnecessary in the sentences.


    • Join Date: Feb 2008
    • Posts: 484
    #3

    Re: Perfect Tense and "Ago"

    Quote Originally Posted by mynick View Post
    I learned that ago cannot be used in perfect tense.
    Then the following sentence is grammatically incorrect?

    1) Supernova may appear to be stars which have just exploded, but in actuality they had already exploded "millions of years ago."
    2) I lost the book that Mother "had bought" me "three weeks ago"
    I don't think the use of the past perfect is justified in either of these sentences. When you use ago, you are counting backwards as from the moment of speaking, which is now, today. So these sentences should actually read as follows:

    1) Supernova may appear to be stars which have just exploded, but in actuality they already exploded "millions of years ago."
    2a) I lost the book that Mother bought me "three weeks ago"
    2b) I lost the book that Mother had bought me three weeks before/previously.


    You have to bear in mind that the past perfect is used in relation to a past time event, not in relation to now, the present. In 2b, the buying of the book took place three weeks before the losing. You cannot use ago any more because you're counting backwards as from a past event (the losing), so you have to use an adverb like before or previously - the same as with reported speech.

    Hope this is clear


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #4

    Re: Perfect Tense and "Ago"

    1) Supernova may appear to be stars which have just exploded, but in actuality they already exploded "millions of years ago."

    In this sentence, with 'already', then Present Perfect would have to be used, and the sentence becomes 'clunky':

    1) Supernova may appear to be stars that have just exploded, but in actuality they have already exploded, millions of years ago.

  2. Newbie
    Student or Learner

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 9
    #5

    Re: Perfect Tense and "Ago"

    Thank you very much for your replies.
    Meantime, I found many cases that "ago" is used in past perfect tense on internet sites.
    How about the following sentence?
    It is not a good sentence either?

    The session had opened one week ago but was immediately suspended to await an agreement on the Commission's demise at the 191-nation UN General Assembly, which voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to set up a new Human Rights Council.


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #6

    Re: Perfect Tense and "Ago"

    If you insist on picking up bad grammar from Internet sites!

    'ago' refers to a measurement of time before the present. See naomimalan's posting and caveat.

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