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Hello,

An exercise from a grammar book:

Before we went to the theatre, we called in/had called in at George's cafe for a pizza.

Why Past Simple is recommended (we called in) and not Past Perfect?
It appears that to call in for a pizza is a previous action, but they say Past Perfect is not correct!

Thanks in advance
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Comments  
The events are not related. We did this, and then we did that.

Before I came home, she had done the dishes. (related)
Before the theater, we called for a pizza. (unrelated)
Before we went to the theatre, we called in at George's cafe.
Before we went to the theatre, we had called in at George's cafe.

As long as you have a 'before' or 'after', the past perfect is redundant: we are already clear on which came first. That is the weak point that I notice about the second sentence.
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Hello Alex, Casi and Mr M

I agree to your opinion that the past perfect in an 'after clause' is redundant. However, at the same time, I feel it odd to say that the use of past perfect tense in after clauses is ungrammatical. One may feel such usages someway hypercorrect but I don't think they are so ungrammatical that teachers should correct them.

[url=""]The American Heritage of English Usage (1996) [/url], for example, is saying: "if the actions you are describing occur at different time, use tenses that make logical sense" and gives an example sentence as follows.
(EX) After he had eaten the soup, everyone asked how it was.

paco
Still, another of their examples leaves much to be desired, Paco:
He had walked in the park that morning.
!
Mr Micawber

Thanks for the reply, but I fear I might not catch what you meant exactly.
I know they put the sentence as the example of the past perfect tense,
but ... I'm sorry my English skill is too poor to understand you.
Could you kindly explain in a more detailed way what you mean?

paco
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I can imagine it in a piece of fiction. It might be 'past' by reference to a character's 'present':

'He had walked in the park that morning. Crombie had followed him, as usual, with his collar turned up and his hat pulled down; at his usual bench, he had opened his newspaper very deliberately, and read for two long hours, while Crombie hopped from foot to foot behind the topiary. And now Crombie was standing outside again, in the doorway of the little tobacconist's...'

But I suppose it would be odd, on its own.

MrP
Without context that clearly establishes a past point of view, the tenses of the past point of view (such as the past perfect) are difficult to judge in terms of appropriateness. When such a context is not provided we choose to interpret them from the present point of view by default.

Most isolated sentences with the past perfect seem strange unless they are complex enough to establish the past point of view. "that morning" may not be enough to establish the viewpoint needed to interpret "He had walked in the park that morning" as past.

A related factoid is that when multiple events are mentioned within a single sentence, their order in time is often irrelevant to the choice of tenses. "before ... had ..." might be thought of as a mindless following of the pattern of "after ... had ...", for example, and can sound perfectly normal (to some, at least):

Tom threw the letter in the wastebasket after he had opened it.
Tom threw the letter in the wastebasket before he had even opened it.

In contrast, "Tom had thrown the letter in the wastebasket before he even opened it" seems odd in isolation, although with the right context to establish the past point of view it might be just perfect.l

Examples suggested by the results of a Google search:

Mozart died before he had completed the Requiem Mass.
One of the fast things suddenly zoomed by from the left and was gone before he had even realized it was coming.
Before he had finished speaking, another servant came in and said that dinner was ready.
He was whisked away to his next appointment before he had announced the finalists.
A terrible scream cleaved the air before he had walked very far.
Before he had even recovered, ten days later he tried suicide again
He was surely the first man to be a senior official in the Ryder Cup before he had even played in the grand old match.

How do these examples fit with the idea that past perfect indicates something farther back in the past than some other event? What is the explanation?

CJ
another of their examples leaves much to be desired


The stock phrase, 'leaves much to be desired' is a circumlocution for 'is unsatisfactory', Paco.
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