# re: Past Perfect?page 2

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Scenario: There is a sale for this Sony LCD and it's \$300. I bought it for \$350 back then.

Are these correct? What do they mean?
1. I would save \$50 if I hadn't bought that LCD back then.
2. I would have saved \$50 if I hadn't bought that LCD back then. (Is it incorrect to use past perfect here? I wouldn't have saved anything back then right? It wasn't on sale before? So should I use the present tense imaginary 'would' instead? It is on sale now?)

Thanks.
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Jack:
I have a little problem here. I don't know if I should use past tense or past perfect for asking questions.

JTT: I think your confusion may rest with waht you actually see. You should get used to calling them past tense FORM or past perfect FORM, Jack, because sometimes it's just the FORM that is being used.

Scenario: My dad asks me if I took his car keyS yesterday and he says:

Which one should I use? Why? How do I know which one I should use?

1. If you didn't do it , you wouldn't have to worry OR If you didn't do it, you don't have to worry.

2. If you hadn't done it, you wouldn't have to worry

We don't use past perfect to talk about a real situation; this situation is real or perceived as real. The cars keys are missing. "if you hadn't done" reflects a TRUE meaning like, "You did it/You took the car keys".

TRUE: You took the car keys. --> If you hadn't taken the car keys, {any number of potential results]
=

For the question above, should I have used #4 instead of #3? What do they mean? How do I know which one to use?

3. Scenario: So my dad asks me if I took his car key yesterday and he says:

JTT: This is one way to report. Using the present tense like this, asks/says, is often used by ENLs to make a past story sound more important/more up to the minute. Of course 'took' is need because that event is finished.

4. Scenario: My dad asks me if I had taken his car key yesterday and he says:

No, the past perfect is used for special considerations. It isn't used to discuss neutral past time. Keep in mind that the backshifting that occurs for reported speech is to show us that it is indirect reported speech.

Here, in 1, is one such special consideration. More formal/more important reporting sequences. # 2 is also possible and probably would be more common unless the speaker wanted to give the sentence some added importance.

1. My dad asked me if I had taken his car key yesterday.

2. My dad asked me if I took his car key yesterday.
Hello JTT
"I would save some dollars" contains a future meaning, NOT a past meaning. is NOT a past tense here. REMEMBER, modal verbs are tenseless.
I'm wondering why you could be so assertive about that contains a future meaning. Suppose a boy utter a sentence like: "I would save 50 cents if I didn't buy this popsicle now. [actually he is going to buy it]. I think in this case "I would save 50 cents" is an event that could happen rather "now", not "tomorrow". And suppose a boy utter a sentence like: "I would have saved 50 cents if I hadn't bought that popsicle yesterday. [actually he bought it]. I think in this case "I would have saved 50 cents" was an event that could have happened "yesterday".

paco
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Paco:

I'm wondering why you could be so assertive about that contains a future meaning. Suppose a boy utter a sentence like: "I would save 50 cents if I didn't buy this popsicle now. [actually he is going to buy it]. I think in this case "I would save 50 cents" is an event that could happen rather "now", not "tomorrow".

Good point, Paco. But you've been misled by the grammatical use of the word "future". "Future" in the grammatical sense, actually means "anytime ahead of now".

"I will have a coke." "I'm gonna have a cookie." Both can be spoken right before the speaker takes the coke or cookie. As you can see, this is what 'future' means.

The boy could just as easily utter; "I will save 50 cents if I don't buy this popsicle now.

"I would save 50 cents if I didn't buy this popsicle now.,

doesn't have to entail that the boy is going to buy the popsicle.

Regardless, the "would" means a "future". The important thing to remember, the part I was asserting, is that it doesn't mean a past, as many ESLs, who have been seriously misled, tend to believe.
How about the case of "I would have saved 50 cents if I hadn't bought that popsicle yesterday"? Do you insist that ESLs should believe has a sense of future in this case too?

paco
Paco: How about the case of "I would have saved 50 cents if I hadn't bought that popsicle yesterday"? Do you insist that ESLs should believe has a sense of future in this case too?

Paco, take a step back, take a deep breath and look once more at your sentence. There is the addition of "have saved". Modal perfect structures are used to describe past/potential past situations. But the 'would' is NOT there to signify past tense. It's there to espress modality, the feelings of the speaker.

If you can't let go of old mistakes, Paco, and you want to go on believing them, I can't help you, but to do so only puts your true understanding of English at peril.

^^^^^^^^^^
"As already noted (6.2.1), English verbs phrases can be marked for either tense or modality, but not both."

" ... we regard modal verbs as unmarked for tense."

Longman Grammar of Written and Spoken English [LGWSE]

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
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1. If you didn't do it , you wouldn't have to worry OR If you didn't do it, you don't have to worry.

2. If you hadn't done it, you wouldn't have to worry

We don't use past perfect to talk about a real situation; this situation is real or perceived as real. The cars keys are missing. "if you hadn't done" reflects a TRUE meaning like, "You did it/You took the car keys".

I'm a bit confused still. When do I use the past perfect one then? Could you give me an example of when to use the past tense one vs past perfect and vice versa?

Also from the quote above, why don't I just use this instead if that past perfect doesn't work?
1. If you had done it, you wouldn't have to worry. (It means you didn't do it?)
So how does #1 compared to #2 in meaning? How do I know which one I should use?
2. If you didn't do it, you wouldn't have to worry.

This just came across my head and I'm not sure what I should use:
Scenario: I care about her so I ask her how she is feeling and she gets mad. So I say:

What do these mean?
3. I would not have asked you if I hadn't cared. (What does this mean?)
4. I would not have asked you if I didn't care. ( I think I should use this one, why? Why not use #1? From the quote above, I think this one is saying that I do care about her? I think #1 and #2 work here right?)

Thanks.
A: That radio is \$100.

B: How about giving me a 20% discount.

A: Weeeeellll okay.

B: [to friend] I saved 20 bucks on this radio!

*I would save 20 bucks on this radio!*

This is ungrammatical for this situation, Pastel, because the meaning with is future, so it makes the utterance nonsensical for the situation. =

Hello, JTT,

Yes, I understand that modals are *** tenseless. But in true, I would save 20 bucks NOW if I hadn't bought it. I could also say "I would have saved 20 bucks yesterday if I hadn't bought it. And with 20 bucks, I could have seen two more movies. "

Pastel
Pastel:
Hello, JTT,

Yes, I understand that modals are *** tenseless. But in TRUTH [true], I would save 20 bucks NOW if I hadn't bought it. I could also say "I would have saved 20 bucks yesterday if I hadn't bought it. And with 20 bucks, I could have seen two more movies. "

JTT: No, modals are always tenseless, Pastel. Because modals can operate in all time situations, the most apt description of them is tenseless.

I think you've missed my point, Pastel. Because of your word choice, 'save', it becomes impossible for you to write,

*I would save 20 bucks NOW if I hadn't bought it.* It is a nonsensical collocation. The meaning can ONLY be glossed as a potential future one. Since it denotes a potential future, it CANNOT collocate with "NOW" or "if I hadn't bought it".

This is very important and I intend to expand on it in the linguistic section. Certain collocations "demand" of us, for semantic {meaning} reasons that we choose one form over another. Using the word 'save' "demands" that we use the modal perfect, "would have saved" because 'the saving' can only have come at the time of the purchase.

I said two postings ago: "This is ungrammatical for this situation, Pastel, because the meaning with is future, so it makes the utterance nonsensical for the situation."

I should have added, and it should have read: "This is ungrammatical for this situation, Pastel, because the meaning with COMBINED WITH 'SAVE', is future, so it makes the utterance nonsensical for the situation.

If we switch to the verb 'have' OR the verb phrase, 'be ahead', we have sentences that are sensible collocations when used without the modal perfect.

I would have 20 bucks more NOW if I hadn't bought it.

I would be ahead 20 bucks NOW if I hadn't bought it.
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Hello Mr Just the Truth
Good point, Paco. But you've been misled by the grammatical use of the word "future". "Future" in the grammatical sense, actually means "anytime ahead of now".

"Any time ahead of now" is "future" in the physical sense. In reality, "grammatical future" is not built in English. The times conceived by old Anglo-Saxons were only two: present and past. This is the reason why English speaking people have contrived many ways to express "future"; "be to do", "be doing", "be going to do", "will/shall do". And it looks like the ways for expressing "future" in English are still now drifting.
If you can't let go of old mistakes, Paco, and you want to go on believing them, I can't help you, but to do so only puts your true understanding of English at peril.

Thank you, but I'll take it as an opinion from a native speaker rather than from an English teacher.

Best regards

paco