# Experts On Tenses?

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As you know, the time of the action expressed in a main clause can be different from the time in the subordinate:

a. Before I went to school, I had eaten a big breakfast. (Past perfect acceptable but not essential)

b. I did not have any money because I had lost my wallet.

1) Now, what happens when there is the greater text to consider? Does the greater context take priority, so to speak, to determine the tense?

1a. I got up at 7am. Before I went to school, I ate a big breakfast.

2a. I got up at 7am. Before I went to school, I had eaten a big breakfast.

(I'm trying now to think of an example where the past perfect in the subordinate clause is essential. The following example may be no good):

2a. I used my wallet to buy food. I did not have any money because I had lost my wallet.

2b. I used my wallet to buy food. I did not have any money because I had lost my wallet.

2) Same question here? Which should we use?

2a. I arrived at school at 8am. Before I went to school, I ate a big breakfast.

2b. I arrived at school at 8am. Before I went to school, I had eaten a big breakfast.

Thanks
Hi,

2a. I used my wallet to buy food. I did not have any money because I had lost my wallet.

2b. I used my wallet to buy food. I did not have any money because I had lost my wallet.

This scenario is hard to understand. What's the sequence of events?

Also, A and B are identical.

As for your other examples, I don't see any need for the Past Perfect in any of them.

Best wishes, Clive

Clive
As for your other examples, I don't see any need for the Past Perfect in any of them.

Not even in this one?

I arrived at school at 8am. Before I went to school, I had eaten a big breakfast.

What I'm asking is what determines the tense of a verb when it is involved in more than one time relationship? Looking at the sentence below, my eating happened before I went to school but after I got up. So do we use the past perfect 'had eaten' to show it happened before I went to school or the past simple to show it happened after I got up? If I use the past perfect, it incorrectly expresses that I ate before I got up, and obviously I can't eat when I'm asleep. This sentence isn't such a good example because the past perfect isn't necessary here, because 'before' clarifies the temporal relationship. But there surely are examples where the past perfect would be required, in which case what tense would we use?

I got up at 7am. Before I went to school, I had eaten/ate a big breakfast.

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Hi,

But there surely are examples where the past perfect would be required, in which case what tense would we use?

Let's divide the work. You think of the example, and then I'll try to comment on it.

Clive
I tried and failed... The one about my losing the wallet was an attempt. I'll keep thinking. For now, which would you use and why? Thanks

2a. I arrived at school at 8am. Before I went to school, I ate a big breakfast.

2b. I arrived at school at 8am. Before I went to school, I had eaten a big breakfast.
Hi,

ate

Because there is no apparent need for the Past Pefect.

Clive
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Is there no apparent reason because it is obvious without the past perfect that it happened before going to school?

And do you understand my original question after clarifying what I meant? Do you agree that both the greater context and the subordinate clause has influence over the tense used in a main cluase?

All I need to do now is think of a sentence where the subordinate clause and greater context require the verb in the main clause to be in different tenses...
Hi,

Is there no apparent reason because it is obvious without the past perfect that it happened before going to school? Right.

And do you understand my original question after clarifying what I meant?Probably not.

Do you agree that both the greater context and the subordinate clause has influence over the tense used in a main cluase?

I agree that it's always a good idea to consider the overall context and the whole sentence.

All I need to do now is think of a sentence where the subordinate clause and greater context require the verb in the main clause to be in different tenses...

Like I said, you find the examples.

Clive