[Grammar] "I had done it"

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Nov 29, 2012
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Dear groupmembers,

I always thought "I had done it" was a perfectly legitimate standalone sentence. A colleague of mine, however, feels that it's a grammatically flawed sentence and should not be used in and of by itself.

Need expert opinions on this please!

Welcome to the forum, ameya. :hi:

Your colleague is right. 'It' must refer to something known, and the past perfect works only if we have a known past-time reference.
Dear mod, thanks for the welcome !

Now, about the "known past time reference", would it help if the conversation up until that point has the detail?

For eg:

person 1: Am sure you never did the calculation Mr X had asked for before the meeting.
person 2: I had done it !! He never bothered to check!

Still incorrect?
It's not just "I had done it" that is a problem when alone.

Any past perfect will sound off unless it's in the context of another past action, but a more recent past action.

I had opened the door.
He had made dinner.
They had traveled throughout Europe.

In the context of a conversation, you can use them alone, because that "past, but more recently past" time has already been established.

How did the cat get out?
I had opened the door to get rid of the smoke in the kitchen.

Why didn't Mark seem pleased when Mary brought home take-out?
He had made dinner for them.


So, yes, in the context of "He was mad you hadn't done it before the meeting" your sentence works, but as a completely stand-alone sentence, it doesnt.
A completely stand-alone sentence is one spoken without reference to anything which has gone before.

For example, after a period of companionable silence when having a drink with a friend, he might say 'I have become a Roman Catholic'.

He wouldn't start a new topic of conversation with 'I had become a Roman Catholic.'

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