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Hello, everyone:

I saw a web site (http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/pastperfect.html ) which says:

  • She never saw a bear before she moved to Alaska. Not Correct
  • She had never seen a bear before she moved to Alaska. Correct


  • May I ask why the first example is wrong? The web page gives such reason:

    If the Past Perfect is not referring to an action at a specific time, Past Perfect is not optional. Here Past Perfect is referring to a lack of experience rather than an action at a specific time. For this reason, Simple Past cannot be used.

    I'm still very confused after I read this. I still don't understand what does it mean by "an action at a specific time". Could you please explain it to me in another words? Thank you!

Comments  
I'm not familiar with a rule that mentions specific time. My generalization is an action previous to another past action (if it happened or not).

I saw "Bride of Frankensteint" on TV last night. [I hadn't seen it before. I had seen it only once before, when I was a child.] [It finally stopped raining yesterday; it had rained for several days almost without letting up.] He took a trip to Europe; we had offered to take him with us, but he wanted to travel alone.]
It is also called pluperfect [perfect = past; plu = more > pluperfect = more than past].

In your example above, many native speakers simply do not use the past perfect, so some would not see an error in the first sentence.
Plain and simple, even though it exists in many/most dialects, using "never + simple past" is not Standard English. So you are limited to "she did not see" or "she had never seen", or some derivative of either.
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HuevosPlain and simple, even though it exists in many/most dialects, using "never + simple past" is not Standard English. So you are limited to "she did not see" or "she had never seen", or some derivative of either.

But I found many cases using "never + simple past" in Google Book search: http://books.google.com/books?lr=&hl=zh-TW&q=%22She+never+saw+a%22 , which has 676 results using key words "She never saw a".
ViceidolBut I found many cases using "never + simple past" in Google Book search: , which has 676 results using key words "She never saw a".
Some of these are sentences like "She never saw a play in her life" (to choose an example at random), where there is no sense of a time before something else, so no need to use the past perfect.

Having said that, I do not entirely agree that sentences like "She never saw a bear before she moved to Alaska." are wrong. I prefer the past perfect, but the simple past is common enough, and it does not strike me as a particularly bad error, if an error at all.
ViceidolI still don't understand what does it mean is meant by "an action at a specific time"
Jackie saw a bear is an action at a specific time. I called my friend is an action at a specific time. You knocked on the door is an action at a specific time. Ken drove to the bank is an action at a specific time.
On the other hand, I didn't do anything is not an action at a specific time. (In fact, it's no action at all.) You did not knock on the door is not an action at a specific time. Jackie never saw a bear is not an action at a specific time. Ken never drove to the bank is not an action at a specific time.
I hope that helps. Emotion: smile

CJ
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By the way, it might be easier just to learn the correct grammar as a pattern:
... had never ... before ...
Ellen had never seen a skyscraper before she moved to New York.
Paul had never drunk wine before he met Sally.
Lina had never heard classical music before she went to the concert last Sunday.
CJ