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    Dear all,

    I have seen the following sentence in a spoken English teaching video. But here I can't understand why past perfect "had' is used. I know that past perfect is used as the past of past. Here in this context I feel that "He did everything a day ago" is OK. I would like to get your valuable opinion on this.

    "He had done everything a day ago."


    Thank you.

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    cat navy 425He had done everything a day ago.

    As you say, this is strange, at least as an isolated sentence. However, it's not impossible. It depends on the context.

    With the past perfect, we'd expect

    He had done everything the day before.

    cat navy 425I feel that "He did everything a day ago" is OK.

    Yes. That's another one that we expect to hear.

    CJ

    Comments  

    It is impossible to tell whether the past perfect is called for without context. I can tell you it is not called for in your question. "I saw the following sentence …" is better.

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     CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
    CJ Sir, thanks a lot.

    CJ Sir, I would like to ask one question here. Please see the following sentences. In both sentences past time markers are used as "Yesterday" and "last night" respectively. Can we use past time marker in a sentence in past perfect tense? I have seen in a grammar book that "ago" is not allowed in a sentence in past perfect tense. I would like to get your valuable opinion on this.

    Thank you.

    1) Yesterday we had gone to (the) mall.
    But today we will do something else.

    2) We had gone to the movies last night.
    But tonight we will do something else.
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    cat navy 425Can we use past time marker in a sentence in past perfect tense? I have seen in a grammar book that "ago" is not allowed in a sentence in past perfect tense.

    Yes, but only in special circumstances. It's not always easy to make a past perfect work with a past-time marker. The recommendation is not even to try to use that combination unless you're very sure of yourself. That's why grammar books give very conservative advice.

    (And people do use 'ago' in past perfect clauses even when they shouldn't. It's not a mistake that native speakers and writers always pay very close attention to.)

    cat navy 4251) Yesterday we had gone to (the) mall.
    But today we will do something else.

    2) We had gone to the movies last night.
    But tonight we will do something else.

    The examples above illustrate how not to do it. To use the past perfect you need to establish a past situation as the anchor time. Then the past perfect is used for the situation that occurred before the anchor point. In other words, the past perfect is the past of the past.


    You can put a time marker in the same sentence with a past perfect if it's not in the same clause with the past perfect, of course.

    Yesterday the team announced [that it had declined the options on seven players].
    Lawmakers [who had considered holding up the legislation] expressed relief yesterday.


    And in very recent news, if "the day before (the anchor event)" is "the day before today", you can express it as "yesterday".

    The accident happened this morning as the plane was taking off from Pemston. It had left the Farmville area early yesterday and had flown into Pemston and landed there without any sign of trouble. (Here the recommended "the day before" is not needed because that's the same as "yesterday".)


    As I hinted at above, the usual way of measuring the time of the past perfect situation is from the anchor event. If the anchor event is last Wednesday, and the past perfect event occurred the day before that Wednesday, you can't say it occurred 'yesterday'. Yesterday is the day before today, not the day before last Wednesday.

    However, if the time of the past perfect situation is measured from 'today', and not from the anchor event, past-time markers like 'yesterday' are possible.

    The following is a case with "ago" where the anchor event occurred "last Saturday" and the past perfect situation was "three weeks ago". Both times are measured from the day this news is reported.

    Last Saturday Republican Joseph Cao defeated a Democratic congressman from New Orleans. [anchor established] Yet just three weeks ago no one in the Republican party had even heard of him.


    From the information I've given you above, you can now see that, modifying one of your examples, the following is possible.

    The whole family was in a good mood this morning because we had seen a very funny movie last night.

    Now it's clear that an anchor time (this morning) has been established, and that all times are being measured from today (this morning; last night).

    CJ

    CJ Sir, I understand exactly. Thanks a lot for this excellent note.
    Thank you.
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