I've heard this joke told in various ways.

A businessman arriving in Boston for a convention found that his first evening was free, and he decided to go find a good seafood restaurant that served scrod, a Massachusetts specialty. Getting into a taxi, he asked the cab driver, "Do you know where I can get scrod around here?" "Sure," said the cabdriver. "I know a few places... but I can tell you it's not often I hear someone use the third-person pluperfect indicative anymore!"

I've also heard this joke using; pluperfect subjunctive, past pluperfect, and passive pluperfect subjunctive. I was hoping to get some input on which would be the correct way to tell this joke.

Thanks for any help. Emotion: smile
Within the world of the joke, scrod is a past participle in a passive construction, pure and simple.
It's not often I hear the past participle would be completely lacking in humor because the past participle is used all the time. The same would be true if you used passivein the joke. That is why the joke has to mention some purely fictitious or fantasy tense that sounds complicated (whether such a tense actually exists or not). Therefore, from the point of view of the "tense" to use in the punch line, there is no correct way to tell the joke. Make up your own "tense" as you choose, preferably something which just "sounds funny". Apparently the consensus is that "pluperfect"* is an inherently funny word! Emotion: smile


*The 'real pluperfect' in the context of the joke is "had scrod".
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In the version of this joke I know, the cabdriver says, "Buddy, I been asked that a thousand times, but never before in the..." In that form, I think you can use "passive past participle," while maintaining both the humor of the joke, and grammatical correctness.
The grammar isn't the point. the joke is. The only answer is: "... pluperfect subjunctive." The cabbie's accent, though politically incorrect, should be black, accent on the "sub" syllable.

I knows what you wants, but that's the fust time I ever hud it in da pluperfect subjunctive!

Yes, it's a racist joke.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
AnonymousYes, it's a racist joke.
Emotion: shake All I can say is that I disagree. The race of the driver is immaterial. It's the substitution ofscrod for screwed that is the substance of the joke.

Check Wikipedia for the definition of pluperfect. It is Latin for "more than perfect". In the case of the joke, "I have never heard it in the past pluperfect tense", is entirely correct.
Agreed - the joke is not intended to be racist but the reason it's set in boston is that there are so many college educated types who are driving cabs.....and who would know their tenses.
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Right. Nothing racist about it. The best version I heard - and the first - over twenty years ago, went like this:

A Bostonian gets into a cab in New York, and says to the driver 'Take me someplace I can get scrod'. And the driver says 'Buddy, I been asked that many times and in many languages, but never in the pluperfect subjunctive!'
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