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Hi,
look at this:

Three years had passed since we ... each other.

a) had seen b) saw c) have seen d) did see

Had seen
is the correct one, and clicking on saw I get:
"Three years had passed" happened AFTER "see", so you must use the past perfect, not the simple past, to indicate that "see" happened first. Study PAST PERFECT and SIMPLE PAST.

I'd like someone to comment on that. Thanks Emotion: smile
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I agree that the answer is a, but the explanation why b is wrong is a little strange perhaps.
It seems that if you need to place see in a tense that indicates it happened before the past perfect tense had passed, you'd need to invent a new tense, the "superpast perfect" had had seen, to do it. Emotion: smile

Secondly, the remark that the past perfect indicates what "happened first" creates a paradox. Both clauses contain the past perfect, so presumably, both "happened first"! Emotion: smile

As it turns out, past perfect is the end of the line where English tenses are concerned, so the "past-est" you can get is the past perfect had seen -- which is the answer.

CJ
Comments  
KooyeenHi,
look at this:

Three years had passed since we ... each other.

a) had seen b) saw c) have seen d) did see

Had seen
is the correct one, and clicking on saw I get:
"Three years had passed" happened AFTER "see", so you must use the past perfect, not the simple past, to indicate that "see" happened first. Study PAST PERFECT and SIMPLE PAST.

I'd like someone to comment on that. Thanks Emotion: smile

To me, it should be Three years had/have passed since we saw each other.
Could you please quote which English authority says that it should be 'had seen'?
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 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
Thanks a lot.
Yeah, that explanation doesn't make sense to me. I mean, "saw" is not wrong because the sequence of tenses is wrong, but because it's not supposed to be good in that hypothetical context.

Three years had passed since we had seen each other.<--- we used to see each other or we sometimes see each other.
Three years had passed since we [saw/had seen] each other at that party in LA.<--- specific occasion. Here, "saw" is ok, but I'm not sure about "had seen".

That's the real difference, I think, not the one they gave. Is it so?
Emotion: smile
Hmmm. I would have picked the same answer that they gave. I have nothing prescriptive to say to explain why! (I'm having trouble focusing on the difference you are arguing for. That's not to say that that difference doesn't exist.)

CJ
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Well, I was saying that according to that explanation the simple past would always be wrong in that construction. But that's not true, because if I add some info, the simple past is ok:

Three years had passed since we had seen each other. <--- past perfect
Three years had passed since we [saw/had seen] each other at that party in LA <--- both should be ok here, right?

Thanks Emotion: smile