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Anonymous:
Hello,

Could you tell me please if there is any difference between these two sentences?

1. I had never seen her before.

2. I never saw her before.

Is this a correct explanation? "These two sentences are used when people are referring to the past, otherwise The Present Perfect Tense is used."

Thanks
ninaniaHello,

Could you tell me please if there is any difference between these two sentences?
1. I had never seen her before.
2. I never saw her before.

Is this a correct explanation? "These two sentences are used when people are referring to the past, otherwise The Present Perfect Tense is used."

Thanks
1. I had never seen her before. You should provide another past time reference which pinpoints "before." e.g.

I had never seen her before the party last weekend.
I had never seen her before the graduation ceremony.

2. I never saw her before.
Here, "before" refers to the present moment of speaking.
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Anonymous:
Hello,

Thank you. Can I use "I have never seen" instead of "Had never seen" and instead of ''never saw" too?
Yes, you can. There is a slight difference.

Suppose you are a mechanic and fix cars. You have been in this business for a long time. A customer brings in a car with a very strange problem. Then you can say:

I've never seen this problem before.

Or suppose you are enrolled in a school, and there is a girl who has also been there for as long as you have, but you never had the same class together. When you meet for the first time, you can say:

It's strange, but I have never seen you before.

Using the present perfect gives the idea that there was always the opportunity, but this is the first time it happened.
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Anonymous:
Hello,

Thank you. But what if there was never the opportunity and still this is the first time it happened? Would it be a mistake to use the past simple or the past perfect and not the present perfect in this case?

And isn't it a mistake to say that another difference between these two sentences: "I had never seen her before the party last weekend" and I have never seen her is that only the present perfect refers to the present moment of speaking and not the past perfect?
ninania"I had never seen her before the party last weekend" and I have never seen her is that only the present perfect refers to the present moment of speaking and not the past perfect?
Yes, the present perfect is relative to the present moment.

The past perfect is relative to a different moment in the past time.

I had never seen her before the party last weekend. (There are 2 time references - the time of the party in the past, and the duration of time before the party, also in the past.)
ninaniaut what if there was never the opportunity and still this is the first time it happened? Would it be a mistake to use the past simple or the past perfect and not the present perfect in this case?
A native speaker intuitively will select the tense that is most relevant, even though there may be more than one choice.

Mechanic:

I have never seen this problem in all my years working on cars. (Ok, it gives the impression that he has seen lots and lots of problems. This one is special.)

I never saw this problem before. (OK. It's a simple factual statement. Maybe he started working on cars yesterday. It does not give the impression of a long history of working on cars.)

I had never seen this problem before. (Not correct usage of past perfect. There is no second past time reference.)

Mechanic talking to his friend:
"You know, a customer broght in a car yesterday with an unusual problem. I had never seen this problem before, so it took me quite some time to figure it out." (Correct usage of past perfect.)
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Anonymous:
Thank you very much.
Anonymous:
Sorry that I return to the question...
If I have got this right, " I had never seen this problem in all my years working on cars " - is wrong ?
Emotion: mmm
AnonymousSorry that I return to the question...If I have got this right, " I had never seen this problem in all my years working on cars " - is wrong ?
It is correct in the appropriate context.

My retired car mechanic was telling me about his experiences.

I remember one day when Buster brought in his old '59 Buick. We tried to diagnose the problem, for several days, but it was elusive. Finally we figured it out. I had never seen this problem before in all my years working on cars.
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