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henryh

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Hello,

I need help with the following.

What would you say if you found out that your girlfriend ...?

A left you
B has left you
C had left you

Could you tell me which one is a proper ending if the woman actually did leave the man?

Thanks.
 

linsuman

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A. past tense-represents action that occurred or existed before the present. Indefinite time.
B. present perfect tense-an act just completed
C. past perfect-action completed at a past time.

It just depends on what the meaning of "is" is. :)
 

riverkid

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Hello,

I need help with the following.

What would you say if you found out that your girlfriend ...?

A left you
B has left you
C had left you

Could you tell me which one is a proper ending if the woman actually did leave the man?

Thanks.

That fact does not necessarily have any bearing on what the speaker might/may choose, Henry. Remember, speakers say what they want to say and sometimes they don't want to acknowledge that there are actual facts involved.
 

MrPedantic

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For me, as a BrE speaker:

A) This would not sound right to me: I would replace "left" with "had left". But it would sound fine with a stative verb (e.g. "...that your girlfriend hated you").

B) would alarm me. I would expect "had" in the final clause; the "has" suggests that the speaker has accidentally moved from hypothesis to real events, and therefore inadvertently revealed that my girlfriend has indeed left me.

C) This sounds fine to me. I agree that it doesn't tell us whether or not the girlfriend has really left.

Best wishes,

MrP
 

apex2000

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My girlfriend left me.
My girlfriend has left me.
My girlfriend had left me.

All these can be correct; it depends upon when the man is speaking and in what context.

A: Didn't you have a girlfriend?
B: Ah, my girlfriend left me.

A: Have you got a girlfriend?
B: No, my girlfriend has left me.

A: What happened to your girlfriend?
B: When I returned from holidays I discovered that my girlfriend had left me.
 

riverkid

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Henry wrote:

What would you say if you found out that your girlfriend ...?

A left you
B has left you
C had left you

Could you tell me which one is a proper ending if the woman actually did leave the man?

+++++++++++++++++++++

There isn't a "proper ending", Henry. Again, it depends on what the speaker wants to say. Since it's posed as a theoretical, I guess we have to assume that the "boyfriend" doesn't know anything about his girlfriend leaving. But there are a lot of nuances possible here and we have to keep in mind the "machinations" that the speaker my be trying to play.

MrP wrote:
B) would alarm me. I would expect "had" in the final clause; the "has" suggests that the speaker has accidentally moved from hypothesis to real events, and therefore inadvertently revealed that my girlfriend has indeed left me.

B could either alarm or have the 'boyfriend' doing cartwheels. I agree with you, MrP on your analysis here. But just because it does move the situation closer to the realm of realness wouldn't have to be taken by the boyfriend to mean that the girlfriend has actually left; he might know the speaker to be a bit of a sadist, a joker, a teaser.

I think this highlights just how important context is. Context that must include the personalities, personal foibles and ulterior motives of the individuals involved.
 

MrPedantic

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B could either alarm or have the 'boyfriend' doing cartwheels...But just because it does move the situation closer to the realm of realness wouldn't have to be taken by the boyfriend to mean that the girlfriend has actually left; he might know the speaker to be a bit of a sadist, a joker, a teaser.

Yes, that's true; it would only "alarm" me if (a) I didn't want my girlfriend to leave (b) I thought the speaker might be serious.

MrP
 
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