Hello.

Could you please tell me when do we use that time clause if we don't talk about prior actions? (NOT "I had been learning English before I moved somewhere") Just a momentary events, for example "I had made a phone call" Why not " I have made a phone call"?

Thanks.
Hi,

Let me comment on your examples.

If you walk into a room and say to me, 'I have made a phone call', I can find meaning in this. It sounds like this call is somehow important right now. I would expect you to continue by telling me why it is important.

If you walk into a room and say to me, 'I had made a phone call', I can find no real meaning in this. I'd probably reply 'What are you talking about?' I mght add 'You made it before what?'

Your post makes me think you need to review the meaning and uses of both tenses in detail, because you do not seem clear about them. Don't worry, lots of people have trouble with the Perect tenses at first.

Clive
The fact is that I quite understand the diffrence between them, but everytime I see texts inclusive "had" without any logical ending that should indicate to me why it exactly contains "had+ed" - i get confused and kind of bewildered because I don't understand why it's so. Example: "Wondering if I had done the right thing or not?" No indications.

I always want to find out if I can use past perfect in ancient stories where actions were commited long ago. "Napoleon had lost the war several centuries ago" Is it ok?
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poppymanCould you please tell me when do we use that time clause if we don't talk about prior actions? (NOT "I had been learning English before I moved somewhere")
You can use the past perfect without a before clause (or similar time clause) if the past point of view has already been established by the context which precedes your use of the past perfect (and you're speaking of an event that occurred prior to that past viewpoint).

The following dialog is a little artificial, but I think it illustrates the idea.

- When did you move here?

- In 2005.

- Why not earlier?

- I had been learning English, and I wanted to finish my courses first.

CJ
Hi,

The fact is that I quite understand the diffrence between them, but everytime I see texts inclusive "had" without any logical ending that should indicate to me why it exactly contains "had+ed" - i get confused and kind of bewildered because I don't understand why it's so. Example: "Wondering if I had done the right thing or not?" No indications.

I always want to find out if I can use past perfect in ancient stories where actions were commited long ago. "Napoleon had lost the war several centuries ago" Is it ok?

Wondering if I had done the right thing or not? I can't think of a reasonable context in which you would say this.

It sounds like you are talking about right now,

ie I am wondering if I have done the right thing.

"Napoleon had lost the war several centuries ago" Is it ok? Not without the reader's awareness of some later point in the past that you are relating this to.

The fact that it refers to something a long time ago is irrelevant.

Clive
It's not always the case that the past perfect action precedes the simple past one. That's an example often cited in grammar books: "Before we had walked ten miles he complained of sore feet."
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AnonymousIt's not always the case that the past perfect action precedes the simple past one.
Well, yes, but there's a reason for that. In the "vanilla case" with a before-clause, the main clause has the past perfect (if one of the two does). The implication is that the event in the main clause ran to completion.

He had complained a dozen times before we reached our destination.

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But the reverse happens in the "special case" when the action in the before-clause is incomplete, i.e., had not finished by the time the event in the main clause happened.

Before he had even had a chance to react, the pickpockets ran off with his money.

CJ
That's completely distracted me. Your explanation means that we can only use "had" before the "simple past" event.

Could I say: "I'd been invited to a party but soon I refused it " Or "I was invited to a party but soon I refused it"?

And what does it mean"It had been a long time since I stayed up that late at night"?

And if we talk about it all, please, let me ask about Present Perfect Continuous: Why is it so: "I have been going to bed very late and now i have to revise and i feel very tired"? "Going to bed" is a rapid action and it couldn't last very long. Please, explain to me this tricky and incomprehensible case.