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Hi,

What's the difference between:

I had been told he died last year and I have been told he died last year.

Please break it down for me. Thank you. I'm having a lot of trouble with the past perfect tense.
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PreciousJonesI'm having a lot of trouble with the past perfect tense.
Have you tried entering "past perfect" in the search box in the upper right corner of the page and reading the many, many posts on the topic? I think that would be a good idea.

Follow the links here simple past and past perfect to get started.

CJ
So wouldn't: I had been told he died last year mean that someone had predicted the future?

Since had been told is the farther past and he died last year is the closer past?

So this person had been told another person died before he died a year later? So basically he was told a person died and that person died a year later....

Is: I have been told he died last year grammatically wrong then?
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The past perfect isn't necessary here. The past perfect shows that something happened before something else in the past.

I was told that John was alive and healthy. However, I had been told he died last year.

Were we to place the verbs on a timeline, the chronology would be clear (what I was told first). But in writing we have no such timeline, so we use different tenses and aspects to indicate the sequence of events instead.

CJ will hopefully clear up what I may have failed to articulate. Emotion: geeked
PreciousJonesSo wouldn't: I had been told he died last year mean that someone had predicted the future?

Since had been told is the farther past and he died last year is the closer past?

So this person had been told another person died before he died a year later? So basically he was told a person died and that person died a year later....

Is: I have been told he died last year grammatically wrong then?

Both of these say that he died last year, and both of them say that someone told you that fact:

I have been told he died last year.
I had been told he died last year.

The difference is the point of view in time -- the reference point in time.
The reference time is the present in the first case, and the past in the second case.

A present time reference does not need to be specially established with a surrounding story to provide context. The present perfect is thus an independent tense.
A past time reference, in contrast, does need to be established with a surrounding story. The past perfect should therefore be considered a dependent tense. It is dependent upon a supporting story in the past tense that establishes the past time reference against which the past perfect is measured.

By providing the surrounding story, you can make more sense of the usage of a past perfect tense. In the case of the sentence you asked about at the beginning of this thread, you might make a story in the past like this:

I was talking to a friend of mine named Fred about people we both knew. He said that our mutual friend George was doing quite well. I was very surprised to hear this about George because I had been told he died last year.

The order of events is this:
1. Someone tells me that George died.
2. Fred tells me that George was doing well.

Fred's telling me that George was doing well happened in the past.
Someone else's telling me that George died happened even farther in the past.

CJ
Thank you CJ!

What's the difference between: I've been told he died last year and I've been told he died a year ago..

So I presume last year isn't considered a specific time? What about:

I've been told he died yesterday. Could this be used? Thanks in advance!

I was told that present perfect tense can't be used with specific time such as a year ago and yesterday....so last year isn't a specific time?
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While you are waiting for CJ's expert advice. I'd like to toss in my 2 cents.
PreciousJones I've been told he died last year and I've been told he died a year ago..

I think the confusion comes from the mixing of two concepts: 1)" being told ", and 2) he died (last year) which actually is a time marker of his passing.

So if we separate the two independent concepts by putting "that" bewteen "told" and " "he", it makes perfect senses.
"I've been told [that] he died last year. Does this help ?
Yes, thank you!
I think Dimsum has already answered your question.
The specific time goes with the past tense in that sentence (died).
It doesn't go with the present perfect (have been told).
Therefore you haven't put a specific time with a present perfect, and your sentence is OK, either with last year or with a year ago.

CJ
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