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The Past Perfect (#3), by Dennis Oliver

 

The Past Perfect Tense #3:
Uses (#2)

 

The past perfect tense is used in several different ways.
One of the most common ones happens when there are
two past actions and one happened before the other:
the past perfect tense is used for the first (earlier) action.

Another common use for the past perfect is in indirect
(reported) speech. In indirect speech, the tenses of verbs
in statements and questions that are reported (said by
one person to another) are influenced by the tense of
the sentence's main verb: if the main verb is in a past
tense, the tense in the reported statement or question is
changed to a corresponding past tense:

actual past tense ---> after a past main verb
simple past ---> past perfect
past progressive ---> past perfect progressive
present perfect ---> past perfect
present perfect
progressive
---> past perfect
progressive
past perfect ---> past perfect
past perfect
progressive
---> past perfect
progressive

Examples:

Bob said to Julie, "Did you eat earlier?" --->
Bob asked Julie if she
had eaten earlier.

Bob added, "I was hoping to have dinner with you." --->
Bob added (that) he
had been hoping to have dinner
with Julie.

Julie said, "I'm sorry, but I've already eaten and I'm full." --->
Julie said (that) she
was sorry but added that she had
already
eaten and (that she) was full.

Bob said, "I've been looking forward to having dinner
with you." --->
Bob said (that)
he'd been looking forward to having
dinner with Julie.

Julie said, "I'm sorry. I hadn't expected to see you." --->
Julie said (that) she
was sorry and added that she
hadn't expected to see Bob.

Bob said, "I'd been counting on seeing you." --->
Bob said (that)
he'd been counting on seeing Julie.


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Special Notes:

1.  

When the reported-speech verb is simple present
it changes to simple past after a past main verb:

Bob said, "I'm hungry." --->
Bob said (that) he
was hungry.

     
2.  

When the reported-speech verb is present progressive
it changes to past progressive after a past main verb:

Bob said, "I'm getting hungry." --->
Bob said (that) he was getting hungry.

     
3.  

Because people sometimes feel they might not be
understood if they changed a present-tense verb to
a past-tense verb, they sometimes don't change
the tense of the reported-speech verb:

Fred said, "I'm married." --->
Fred said (that) he
is married.

(Fred doesn't want to suggest that he was married
but isn't now.)

Ahmed said, "My father is living in Kuwait." --->
Ahmed said (that) his father
is living in Kuwait.

(Ahmed doesn't want to suggest that his father
isn't living in Kuwait now.)

     
4.   Notice that the past perfect and the past perfect
progressive tenses don't change in reported speech
after a past-tense verb. This happens because in
English, there isn't a tense that is "more past" than
the past perfec
t.
     
5.  

Verbs with modal auxiliaries are complicated in
reported speech:

modal
auxiliary
---> after a past
main verb
can ---> could
could ---> could*
may ---> might
might ---> might*
must ---> must
should ---> should
will ---> would
would ---> would*

Examples:

Julie said, "I can still go with you. I just
won't eat." --->

Julie said (that) she could still go with Bob.
She added that she just
wouldn't eat.


Bob said, "I would really appreciate that." --->

Bob said (that) he would really appreciate
Julie's doing that.


Bob added, "You shouldn't do that if you

don't really want to."-->

Bob said (that) Julie shouldn't do that if she
didn't really want to."


Bob thought, "Julie must really want to go out
with me." --->

Bob thought (that) Julie must really want to go out
with him.

 

* These modals do not change to their
"have forms" because this could cause
a change in meaning.


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Next: another use of
the past perfect tense
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