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Hi, I've been doing some exercises from the book "cambridge - english grammar in use"

There is one exercise on past simple and present perfect:

"My grandfather ....... (die) before I was born. I ......... (never/meet) him."

Why is this example placed in "past simple and present perfect" unit?

The answer is "died".

Why isn't it "had died"?

Thanks for any reply.
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Comments  (Page 2) 
tmn111 So in everyday speech past perfect isn't necessery?
I hope I didn't mislead you. There are plenty of very common everyday casual conversational expressions which use the past perfect. We pick them up from our friends as we go along, and we get to know what they mean.

By "unnecessary," I meant there are very few actual situations that couldn't be described by using simple past instead of past perfect. I'm certainly not suggesting you shouldn't become expert in its use.
So in everyday speech past perfect isn't necessary? Wrong. The past perfect is sometimes required in everyday speech, and it is used in everyday speech. It's not used as often as other tenses, perhaps, but it is used. It's just that learners believe it is used more often than it really is.

Is it only used in written and formal (for example novels, TV news etc.) english? No, as explained above. But when both simple past and past perfect are possible, the use of the past perfect may sound somewhat more formal to some speakers.

Is it true that it's used more often in british english? No. That is not true.

_______________

You need the past perfect in the if clause of this grammatical pattern:

If I had seen that bus coming, I would not be in the hospital now.


And after wish in this pattern:

I wish I had sold my car last year.

The past perfect is also used, often with already, in combination with a by the time clause in the past.

By the time we arrived, the train had already left.

The past perfect is also commonly used in subordinate clauses after thought, knew, etc.

I thought I had seen everything, but that movie topped it all.
I knew I had seen her somewhere before, but I couldn't remember who she was.


And to deny ever having heard or noticed or thought of something previous to being told about it. These are usually in the negative.

-- Did you know that Lucy got married last Saturday?
-- No! I hadn't heard that.

-- How about if we stand on these boxes so we can reach the top shelf?
-- Good idea. I hadn't thought of that.

-- Russ is wearing that stupid tie again -- the one with the fish on it.
-- Really? I hadn't noticed.


Many learners are surprised to learn that the past perfect can also be used in a before clause when the action of the main clause interrupts and prevents the completion of the event in the before clause.

Unfortunately, there was a power outage, and the lights went out before we had seen all the photos.

This post might interest you. Past / Past perfect

CJ
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CalifJim And to deny ever having heard or noticed or thought of something previous to being told about it. These are usually in the negative.

-- Did you know that Lucy got married last Saturday?
-- No! I hadn't heard that. (I didn't know that!)

-- How about if we stand on these boxes so we can reach the top shelf?
-- Good idea. I hadn't thought of that. (I didn't think of that!)

-- Russ is wearing that stupid tie again -- the one with the fish on it.
-- Really? I hadn't noticed. (I didn't notice that!)
Hi, CJ. I'm struggling with a couple of these ideas. I guess we drifted from "when past perfect is required" to "when past perfect may be used." I expect sometimes the distinction is clear-cut and sometimes not. (Edit. Sorry, "drifted" is the wrong word. I know it was explicit.)

It often seems as if past perfect is an "optional" choice, almost modal in nature, creating a special mood or flavor for the statement.

We typically explain the tense differences to students only in terms of time factors. When we say a past perfect event was completed prior to a past event, we rely on context to define the past event; and we rely on context (or the listener/reader's experience/common sense) to define the time gap between the two events.

I suggest that in these three examples, the simple past and the past perfect describe the events with equal accuracy, with respect to time, the difference being one of mood.

Do you think I'm out in left field on this one?

Respectfully, - A.
AvangiWe typically explain the tense differences to students only in terms of time factors.
Yes, and my post is an attempt to "correct" what I believe is a (partially) faulty approach to the subject!!! Emotion: smile
AvangiDo you think I'm out in left field on this one?
No. The simple past is sometimes used in those situations. Nevertheless, there are tons of threads on this forum asking why the past perfect is used in just such situations, and I felt like adding those examples for students who are wondering about them -- not that I've given any rationale for why the past perfect is correct there, but that, by listing them here, I confirm that they are correct, which is often strongly doubted by learners.

CJ

P.S. I wouldn't call them modal. I hadn't thought of that solution (before you mentioned it). There is a time difference component here.

On the other hand, I think of the before ... had done ...pattern as subjunctive, but I usually keep this opinion to myself. Emotion: smile
Thanks for your numerous replies Emotion: smile
I really appreciate this.

I just want to add that I know when to use the past perfect in sentences like:

"If I hadn't done this, that wouldn't have happened"

"I thought I had done this"

"I wish I'd done this" etc.

What I'm confused about is, how to call it, something like "pure" past perfect with no any conditionals, phrases with "wish" etc.

I'm confused about sentences like this:

We were good friends. We had known each other for years.

Could I say in this situation: We didn't know each other for years?
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tmn111 I'm confused about sentences like this:

We were good friends. We had known each other for years.

Could I say in this situation: We didn't know each other for years? I agree with you that this is "pure," a "classic," so to speak. Nevertheless, something has gone haywire (awry).

The first sentence sets it up by using simple past tense. It doesn't specifically say that you are no longer friends, or that the person has died.

But if we had wished to express that we are still friends (or still know each other), we'd have used the present simple, followed by the present perfect: "We are good friends. We have known each other for years."

Therefore we assume the friendship has terminated. It's an assumed event in the simple past.

Hmmm. I can see the possibility for a misunderstanding here.

The past tense point in time is not expressed as a point. It's only implied. "We were good friends." Because of our understanding of the context, we assume the friendship lasted for a period of time in the past and was then terminated by something - an event, or a non-event - which is not expressed here. Perhaps you merely lost touch.

We have our critical point in/of time in the simple past - the implied end of the period when we were good friends.

We now use the past perfect to make a second statement, whose time frame is prior to the end of the "good friends" period.

"We had known each other for years."

The time frames in this case overlap. "We were good friends." "We had known each other for years." How do we reconcile this with the notion that the past perfect expression must precede the simple past expression? Enter the theoretical (or implied) end of the friendship. "We were good friends" conveys two meanings to us: a period of friendship, and an end. "We had known each other for years" precedes the "end."

Your optional statement, "We didn't know each other for years," must be rejected because of our knowledge of the words being used, and the context.

(1) Before we ever met, we didn't know each other for years. This is obviously a true statement, but we reject it because of common sense. Such a thought wouldn't follow from the previous sentence.

If your reasoning is:
the past perfect refers to a time prior to a simple past statement. Therefore it refers to the time before we were friends. I didn't know him. This would be understandable. But again, we must reject it because of common sense.

(2) Your negative optional sentence doesn't follow from the first sentence in your example, "We were good friends." It's grammatical and logical, but it's not idiomatic as a complete thought (the two sentences together.) It doesn't pass the common sense test.

Expressions like "being friends" and "knowing each other" don't necessarily imply a definite ending point in time, as would expressions like, "I passed my driving test," and "I cleaned the house." I guess that's why we must keep "common sense" in mind.
CalifJim The simple past is sometimes used in those situations.
Many thanks for the reply, Jim. I'll check some of the other posts.
Sorry I made a mistake.

The example was:

We were good friends. We had known each other for years.

I was meant to ask if I could say:

We were good friends. We KNEW each other for years. instead of "had known" in this situation.
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tmn111 We were good friends. We had known each other for years.

We were good friends. We KNEW each other for years. instead of "had known" in this situation. Yes. This conveys the same basic idea.
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