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Hello all,

Do you think that the Past Pefect is unnatural in this context (a description of a computer game, in the present tense):

«[In the game] Things do change with time. A night visit to a location that had looked safe and cosy during the day may proof fatal for beasts of prey prefer to roam under the darkness' cover while men usually sleep.»

I used this tense because I felt it might emphasize that the place is no longer "safe and cosy". Did my intuition cheat on me? I know that technically the Past Simple should be enough...

Thanks in advance,
Anton
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Comments  
You're referring to "had looked"? Given that you're writing instructions in the present tense, this seems iffy to me. I prefer plain old "looked". A couple of other corrections/suggestions:

"Things do change with time. A night visit to a location that looked safe and cosy during the day may prove fatal, for predatory beasts of prey prefer to roam under the cover of darkness while men usually sleep."

The comma is desirable because otherwise one naturally reads "fatal for beasts" as a unit and then has to backtrack when this doesn't work out.
Ant_222A night visit to a location that had looked safe and cosy during the day may proof prove fatal for beasts of prey that prefer to roam under the darkness' cover of darkness while men usually sleep.
The past perfect is fine. The daytime look came before the nighttime visit, so the sequence makes sense. Note, however, a few other problems that I corrected (in red). cover of darkness is pretty much a set phrase you can't tamper with. [Sounds spooky! Hee!]

CJ
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Just in case it's not obvious, Anton, CJ and I are interpreting the "fatal for beasts" part in completely different ways. In my interpretation it's fatal for "you" (the person you're addressing). In his, it's fatal for the beasts.
Yipes! Mr. Wordy to the rescue! I hadn't noticed that. I doubt Anton meant it the way I saw it.

CJ
Thanks for the replies.

"Proof"/"prove" is a foolish typo indeed.

As for the "beasts of prey"/"predatory beasts" — I just don't understand what you don't like about "beasts of prey"...

CalifJim:
«The past perfect is fine. The daytime look came before the nighttime visit, so the sequence makes sense.»

Now that I have got a positive answer (also taking into account its being iffy to Mr. Wordy) my doubt has only increased )). As I said, the game is dscribed in a present timeframe, which means using the Past Perfect is like shifting from second to neutral without going through first. I myself have only a feeling that it might work, with no logical reason behind. Please, confirm that it is indeed possible.

Mr. Wordy:
«Just in case it's not obvious, Anton, CJ and I are interpreting the "fatal for beasts" part in completely different ways.»

Yes, I used the "for" as "because", so thanks for inserting the comma.

Anton
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Ant_222As for the "beasts of prey"/"predatory beasts" — I just don't understand what you don't like about "beasts of prey"...

I thought "beasts of prey" sounded a bit odd, but looking at Google results it seems to be a much more well-used expression than I had imagined, so apologies and ignore me.
Ant_222Now that I have got a positive answer (also taking into account its being iffy to Mr. Wordy) my doubt has only increased )). As I said, the game is dscribed in a present timeframe, which means using the Past Perfect is like shifting from second to neutral without going through first. I myself have only a feeling that it might work, with no logical reason behind. Please, confirm that it is indeed possible.
My misgivings are just as you describe. Let's try to think of an analogous present-tense instructional example. Say a public information leaflet: "Stick to well-lit routes. A street that seemed safe in the day may be dangerous at night." I would not say "had seemed" here. However, CJ's reply makes me wonder if I'm missing something.
Mr WordyHowever, CJ's reply makes me wonder if I'm missing something.
Deat CJ, can you explain to us your viwepoint?

Anton
Ant_222can you explain to us your viwepoint?
Probably not! Emotion: smile All I can say is that the past perfect didn't bother me when I read what you wrote. (By the way, I think the simple past is just fine as well.)

This would be my approach to explain further:

Sometimes what had seemed safe at an earlier time turns out to be quite dangerous when revisited later.

The comparison itself is present tense because it is "an eternal truth", or, less dramatically, a timeless relationship. (Sometimes X turns out to be Y.)

The parts being compared reference two different (imaginary, abstract) times, one before the other (earlier; later), and both in the past, because you have to have experienced the correlation before you can formulate it as your "statement of eternal truth".

Most readers will find that the words earlier and later, or other words that imply that relationship, are enough to clarify the time sequence. These readers will be quite happy with the simple past. But that doesn't mean, in my opinion, that the past perfect is wrong. In fact, I rather like it.

I can't predict whether any of my explanation will convince you that your past perfect is OK, but it may. Emotion: smile

CJ
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