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Hi, dear teachers. Recently I have newly encountered this pattern "since + past perfect". Previously I thought his pattern was possible only in the backshift version of "It's been a period of time since..." as in "It had been a long time since sb had done". But now I have seen these sentences in The Shining:

1.) She looked out the kitchen window and saw him just sitting there on the curb, not playing with his trucks or the wagon or even the balsa glider that had pleased him so much all the last week since Jack had brought it home.

2.) A sharp and cutting fall wind had come up since they had arrived;

3.) He had known that this was his last season at the Overlook ever since he had seen that thing in the bathtub of Room 217.

4.) Jack glanced at his watch and was surprised to see that forty-five minutes had somehow slipped by since he had come down here.

I previously thought they were backshift of simple past, because we needed to change tenses of all verbs in a novel written in past tense to their corresponding past tenses. But I've also seen many since-clauses where the tense after "since" is still simple past, which seems not to have been backshifted.

5.) It had happened twice since they moved to Boulder, and he remembered how surprised and pleased he had been to find Tony had followed him all the way from
Vermont.

6.) Shining the flashlight ahead of him, he stepped past the elevator shaft (at Wendy's insistence they hadn't used the elevator since they moved in) and through the small stone arch.

I can find more since-clauses which don't use the pattern "since + past perfect". So I come to wonder why.

  1. Do we really need to backshift tenses of all the predicates to their corresponding past tenses in a novel(written in past tense)? For example, present perfect to past perfect.
  2. If we do, then why in the narrative part tenses of some since-clauses are backshifted while those of some other since-clauses are not?
  3. Generally, when and how do we use past perfect after "since" in a novel written in past tense?
  4. More generally, when and how do we past perfect after "since"?

PS:

I only talk about "since" being used temporarily.

I only talk about since-clause in the narrative part. In the dialogue part tenses in since-clauses are used in their original form.


Thank you very much for your time and patience.

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The use of past perfect to clearly show a time sequence of events (one event coming earlier in the past than another past event) is very common in narratives. The choice of tenses is the author's preference. Sometimes it is for emphasis, sometimes for clarification.

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Thank you very much. So the tenses after "since"(temporal) can be either simple past or past perfect. The two tenses are interchangeable after "since" without changing the original meaning of the sentence. It's just for the purpose of emphasis or clarification that the author chooses past perfect. Otherwise they might as well use simple past to express the same meaning, right?

If you read your examples carefully, you may observe the verb in the main clause and the verb in the since clause are both past perfect.


She had planted corn every year since she had bought the farm. (Past perfect + past perfect)

She had planted corn every year since she bought the farm. (Past perfect + past. The reverse, past + past perfect does not work.

I have been bored since I moved here. (The past perfect does not work with the present perfect.)


The use of back-shifting only applies to reported speech.

She said, "I went to the city." (Past tense in quoted speech.)

She said she had gone to the city. (Back-shifted verb in reported (indirect) speech. )

AlpheccaStars

If you read your examples carefully, you may observe the verb in the main clause and the verb in the since clause are both past perfect.



Thank you. Yes. But the in the last two examples, the verbs in since clauses are simple past.

AlpheccaStars

She had planted corn every year since she had bought the farm. (Past perfect + past perfect)

She had planted corn every year since she bought the farm. (Past perfect + past. The reverse, past + past perfect does not work.


Are you trying to tell me these two sentences are identical? This brings us back to what I have written below your first reply:

So the tenses after "since"(temporal) can be either simple past or past perfect. The two tenses are interchangeable after "since" without changing the original meaning of the sentence. It's just for the purpose of emphasis of (the sequence of two events) or clarification that the author chooses past perfect. Otherwise they might as well use simple past to express the same meaning.

Do I understand you correctly?

(

AlpheccaStars


The use of back-shifting only applies to reported speech.

She said, "I went to the city." (Past tense in quoted speech.)

She said she had gone to the city. (Back-shifted verb in reported (indirect) speech. )

So you mean there is no backshift of tense in novels? It is just a past tense narrative?

Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
zuotengdazuoAre you trying to tell me these two sentences are identical?

Yes, I thought I told you that past perfect is the choice of the author in many cases.

zuotengdazuoSo you mean there is no backshift of tense in novels? It is just a past tense narrative?

Novels can use direct speech and reported speech.

So you will see backshifiting of tenses in novels where the author has used reported speech.

AlpheccaStars

Yes, I thought I told you that past perfect is the choice of the author in many cases.

So for my example 5) and 6), the author might as well say "since they had moved..."?

AlpheccaStars
Novels can use direct speech and reported speech.

So you will see backshifiting of tenses in novels where the author has used reported speech.

Do you mean in a novel the narrative part is reported speech while the dialogue part is direct speech?

1. ...that had pleased him so much all the last week since Jack had brought it home.

2. He had known that this was his last season at the Overlook ever since he had seen that thing...

3. ...forty-five minutes had somehow slipped by since he had come down here.

4. It had happened twice since they moved to Boulder..

5. they hadn't used the elevator since they moved in)


Let's look carefully at the two events. The sentences that use past perfect ... since ... past perfect describe two events that started with one coming slightly before the other, the earlier is coincidental with, or causes the other. )

1. Jack brought it home / he was pleased (Two simultaneous events at the same time. The "bringing home" caused the pleasure.

2. He knew something / he saw that thing. (Two simultaneous events at the same time. The "knowing something" is coincident with and is a consequence of "seeing that thing". The writer believes that they are connected.).

3. forty-five minutes elapsed / he came (Two simultaneous events at the same time. The starting of a time marker and his coming).


The next two sentences do not describe a similar time sequence.

4. It had happened twice since they moved to Boulder.. (This does not describe two events that were coincident)

5. they hadn't used the elevator (There is no event here. It describes a non-event, something that didn't happen.)

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AlpheccaStars

Let's look carefully at the two events. The sentences that use past perfect ... since ... past perfect describe two events that started with one coming slightly before the other, the earlier is coincidental with, or causes the other. )



The next two sentences do not describe a similar time sequence.

4. It had happened twice since they moved to Boulder.. (This does not describe two events that were coincident)

5. they hadn't used the elevator (There is no event here. It describes a non-event, something that didn't happen.)

Thank you so much! I think I understand you.

1. So "It had happened twice" is not a event but a state because the word "twice" is used. If the author writes "It had happened once", then the clause refers to an event. And "they hadn't used the elevator" is a state. Right?

2. So basically, if the sentence is "event 1 + since + event 2" and the two events are coincident or event 2 causes event 1, then we can apply the structure "past perfect + since + past perfect" to the sentence.

3. If the sentence is "state + since + event", then we can use either simple past or past perfect after "since"(though simple past is more natural).

For example, "She had not written a word since the exam (had) started."

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