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  1. retro's Avatar
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    #1

    past perfect vs simple past

    Hi

    "During the 1960s the country made significant advances toward eliminating racial discrimination. Between 1954 and 1960, 765 out of the 6676 school districts in the South had been desegregated. Between 1961 and 1964, some 365 additional schools districts admitted black students to formerly all-white schools, increasing by almost 50 per cent the number desegregated during the previous seven years."

    I wonder if the past perfect is optional as it refers to an action at a specific time or it must be used because it expresses a change and further change might (as it did) occur.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: past perfect vs simple past

    I actually think that the past, "were," is the better choice. It covers a time in which these things happened. If you said "By 1960, X districts had been," that would be fine, but with a time period like that, past works better.

    {not a teacher}

  3. retro's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: past perfect vs simple past

    Thank you for your quick response.

    I'm reading a book (An outline of American history) and it's full of examples which are confusing, like the one said.

    I may enter some more examples in the future into this thread and would appreciate your further guidance and other users' help is also welcome.

    Here's another one. Can you use simple past "he gained" or you must use PP to highlight the achievement?

    "...Against this background of world tension, the American people, in November 1960, elected Senator John F. Kennedy to the Presidency. Kennedy defeated by a narrow margin his Republican opponent, Vice President Richard Nixon. The two youthful presidential candidates highlighted their campaigns by appearing on television in a series of debates - Nixon emphasizing the experience he had gained during his eight years in the Eisenhover Administration and reminding voters of the "peace and prosperity" achieved under Republican leadership, and Kennedy calling for new, forward-looking leadership and more effective use of the country's human and economic resources."
    Last edited by retro; 24-May-2009 at 22:26.

  4. engee30's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: past perfect vs simple past

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I actually think that the past, "were," is the better choice. It covers a time in which these things happened. If you said "By 1960, X districts had been," that would be fine, but with a time period like that, past works better.

    {not a teacher}
    If the author wanted to present the idea of a change that took place between those years, the only possible way to do so is by the use of the passive form had been desegregated; with were desegregated, it merely conveys the idea of a state, in this case school districts already being desegregated at the time.


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    #5

    Re: past perfect vs simple past

    I would be even more forceful than Barb_D -'were' is the choice.

    The problem is 'between': the years "1954' and '1960' set the boundaries in time during which some fact (a timeless event) became true.
    compare:
    By 1964, 765 out of the 6676 school districts in the South had been desegregated. - this looks back over a period to time, from the very start when one school was desegregated, and the situation in 1964.

    Note the very next sentence:
    "Between 1961 and 1964, some 365 additional schools districts admitted black students " (Past tense, not Past Perfect)

    "...the experience he had gained during his eight years..." : 'during' indicates a period of time over which the experience was gradually gained.
    Last edited by David L.; 25-May-2009 at 00:38.

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