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I'd like to know if these two sentences are both possible and mean the same thing:

I couldn't find the pictures I had looked at earlier.

I couldn't find the pictures I had been looking at earlier.

Comments  

I would like to change the second sentence into:

I didn't expect to see the pictures I had been looking at earlier. This is from a newspaper and I don't understand the combination of past perfect continuous and "earlier".

olive file 673I'd like to know if these two sentences are both possible and mean the same thing:

There is a slight difference, the one you would expect from the difference in aspect. "Had looked" speaks to the single act of looking. "Had been looking" means looking over time. Just be sure you need the perfect.

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olive file 673

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I didn't expect to see the pictures I had been looking at earlier. This is from a newspaper and I don't understand the combination of past perfect continuous and "earlier".

The past perfect, whether continuous or not, goes naturally with "earlier". Using the past perfect already indicates that something happened earlier than something else.

1. You were looking at pictures. (This part is "earlier".)
2. You didn't expect to see those pictures. (This part is "later".)

CJ

So in your opinion both past perfect and past perfect continuous are possible in this example?

olive file 673

So in your opinion both past perfect and past perfect continuous are possible in this example?

Yes.

CJ

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Does the same apply to : "I couldn't find the pictures I had been looking at earlier"?

olive file 673

Does the same apply to : "I couldn't find the pictures I had been looking at earlier"?

Yes.

CJ