Past Perfect Tense - 77

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Past Perfect Tense.


Past Perfect (or Pluperfect) Tense indicates that some action or event happened before something else happened.

We had not been there long before the train came.

Past Perfect (or Pluperfect) Tense used to express actions happened or completed in the past.

I had been there once.
He had seen her before.

Students have great difficulty in understanding the difference between the Past indefinite and the Past Perfect. They write such things as these :

1. We had been to the station last night to meet you.
2. I had read that book last term.
3. They had seen us in Anuradhapura last summer.

But, what they should have said was:

1. We went to the station last night to meet you.
2. I read that book last year.
3. They saw us in Anuradhapura last summer

Much practice is needed to master this difficulty. In the meantime follow this rule : whenever you have used Past Perfect, Change it to the Past Indefinite. If it then expresses your meaning, leave it.

For example : If you have written – I had fallen and sprained my ankle.

Change it to : I fell and sprained my ankle.

In nine cases out of ten, Past Indefinite Tense will be what you meant to use.

N.B. Notice carefully the difference between the Past Perfect and the Use of Had in the sense of ordered or arranged for something to be done.

For example : The chairs you had made for me are much admired.

This does not mean “the chairs which you made for me …”, but “the chairs which you ordered to be made for me …”

So we say :

I had my hair cut.
I had these pictures framed.
I have had my teeth attended to. …

This sense of Have is used in all tenses.

You should have these hooks rebound.
Are you having these roses trimmed?
I shall/will not be having anything done to the house before next year. …

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