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Martha has lived in Europe and Asia with her parents when she was little; therefore, she is fluent in five languages.

Is it right to use the present perfect form in the above? Must it be changed into simple past form--lived? Thanks.
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Comments  (Page 3) 
<<Without a subsequent simple past phrase, there is no need for the past perfect >>

Sorry for being stubborn, but what about "when she was little"? Doesn't that fit the description?

How do you see this sentence? When Laura met him, John had dated a couple of other girls for a while.
Hi Goodman

The word 'when' is regularly used to refer to "at that time".
- He lived in New Jersey when he was a teenager.
- She learned German when she was middle-aged.
- I read that book when I was on vacation.

Now look at this sentence:
- Mary left when John arrived.

In that sentence, Mary's arrival and John's departure basically coincide. If you wanted to use the word 'when' in a sentence saying that Mary left before John arrived, then you would use the past perfect to clarify the order of the two past events:

- Mary had (already) left when John arrived.

The past perfect simple in your post above tells the reader that John dated a couple of other girls for a while before he met Laura.
When Laura met him, John had dated a couple of other girls for a while.


If you wanted to add duration and also say that he was still dating other girls when (at the time) he met Laura, you should use the continuous form:
When Laura met him, John had been dating a couple of other girls for a while.
That would bring his dating of other girls right up to the time of his meeting Laura, but it would be unclear whether he stopped dating other girls or not after he met Laura.

When Laura met him, John was dating a couple of other girls.
The sentence above refers to an activity that was in progress at the point in time that John and Laura met.

Note that your sentence used two verbs that normally also differ significantly in duration anyway. Clearly, the activity of dating someone is much longer than being introduced to someone.

Now, let's go back to one of my previous sentences:
- I read that book when I was on vacation.
"Read that book" and "was on vacation" can happily coincide in the same period of past time -- even though we'd naturally assume that the reading of the book took less time than the entire duration of the vacation. The sentence refers to two completed past activities that coincided. The 'when clause' tells you what time the main clause happened.

- I read that book when I was on vacation. = I read that book at/during the time that I was on vacation.
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Amy,

Thank you for taking the time for the detailed explanation. I understand and in principle agree with almost everything you said. However, there is still some kind of glitch in our thoughts interpreting that particular sentence. Either my head is so thick that the signals from you can not penetrate, or I learned my English with the wrong book. we are still far apart from agreeing. So I searched for the answers. Keep in mind this is the questioned sentence.

<<She [had lived] in and with her family [when she was a little girl] >>

I am not advocating the use of past perfect. Rather proposing if it would be a more logical choice at the beginning. Of course a simple past would do the job but that was not the question. This is what I found:

http://www.learnenglish.org.uk/grammar/archive/pastperfect01.html

The past perfect can serve the same purpose as conjunctions of time such as when, after and before:

My proposed sentence in debate:

  • When she (had) finished her work she left the office.
  • After Jimmy (had) arrived, the party became really good.
  • Before he retired my father (had) worked in the post office.


  • Notice that it is not normally necessary to use the past perfect in these situations, but it is quite common to do so, especially with the conjunction when, which has several different meanings and may need to be clarified.

    By using a combination of these conjunctions and different tenses we can not only explain ourselves more precisely, but also be less repetitive.

    As with most verb tenses, the past perfect has both a simple and a continuous form:

    • I had talked to all of the candidates by lunchtime.
    • I had been talking so much that I was starting to go hoarse.


    • While the simple form is used to stress the fact that the action was finished (i.e. there were no more candidates to talk to), the continuous form stresses the continuation of the activity (i.e. I would (probably) talk some more).

      Another difference is that we tend to use the past perfect simple to speak about situations that lasted a long time, or were permanent, while the past perfect continuous is for more temporary or short-term situations or actions:

      • By that time the Moors had lived in southern for over 700 years.
      • I had only been living in for a week when I found a job.


      • There are also some verbs (called stative verbs) that are not usually used in the continuous form, even though that tense would seem to be more appropriate.

        We also use the past perfect tense with verb

        Despites all the words said and used in the exchanges of this discussion, I do appreacite all the responses sincerely!