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# rule for simple past and past perfect

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rule for simple past and past perfect [#permalink]

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17 Jul 2009, 07:30
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While taking the GMAT tests I figured that I go wrong with the simple past and past perfect tenses.
I understand that past perfect is used when there are two actions and one is completed before the action takes place. However, i noticed there are many at times when i go wrong. Are there any word triggers or any other such thing to help decide when to use simple past and when to use past perfect?

Thanks

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Re: rule for simple past and past perfect [#permalink]

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20 Jul 2009, 21:49
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bassiseema wrote:
While taking the GMAT tests I figured that I go wrong with the simple past and past perfect tenses.
I understand that past perfect is used when there are two actions and one is completed before the action takes place. However, i noticed there are many at times when i go wrong. Are there any word triggers or any other such thing to help decide when to use simple past and when to use past perfect?

Thanks

We will use the verb 'eat' (an irregular verb) to illustrate the difference between past tense and past perfect tense.
Introductory grammar notes: The past tense of eat is ate. The past participle (used for forming the 'past perfect') is eaten.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PAST TENSE: The 'past tense' form is used to show what happened/finished in a time before now.

e.g. 'Yesterday I ate three big bars of chocolate.'

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PAST PERFECT TENSE: The 'past perfect' tense is used to show that an action had already finished before something else also happened in the past. There are two events in the past, and one happened before the other.

Past Perfect form: had + (past participle).

e.g., 'I was very ill yesterday afternoon. I think this was because I had eaten three bars of chocolate at lunch time!'

Notice that two things are mentioned as happening yesterday. First (in time), I ate three bars of chocolate, and, later, subsequently, I was ill.

In this case there is possibly a causal relationship between the two events, but this isn't always so when the past perfect is used.

e.g. 'I had only just put the washing out when it started to rain!'

It is extremely unlikely that putting the washing out to dry actually causes it to rain! However, notice again that there are two events, one following the other, i.e. (i) the washing was put out. (ii) it started to rain.
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Re: rule for simple past and past perfect [#permalink]

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01 Oct 2010, 11:25
can someone throw light on the same topic

which tense can be used when "after" and "before" are used in the sentence

san-franciscans-of-the-1890s-mocked-the-claim-that-declared-los-angeles-a-world-city-101974.html#p791433

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Re: rule for simple past and past perfect [#permalink]

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05 Oct 2010, 01:51
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Usage of past tense and past perfect tense

Use of past perfect is essentially a chronological factor, when two events that started and ended in the past are to be marked with proper tenses. In this scenario, the one that is clearly the earlier, will be in past perfect and the one that is later in simple past. Supposing there were more than two event the last of one of the series of action will entail a simple past tense, while the all the previous ones will entail use of past perfect.

Thus, to cite an example,

1. I had woken up pretty late in the morning and darted to the office like a bullet.

Only two events and hence the last one is in simple past and the earlier one is in past perfect.

2. I had woken up, pretty late, taken bath quickly, eaten my breakfast in a gulp and darted to the office like a bullet.
More than two events, only the last one in simple past and all the other earlier ones, though more than one, marked in past perfect.

By logical predication, a past perfect can not exist alone without an accompanying simple past. Thus when only one event is involved, you can not express it in the past perfect.

Ex; I had taken two cups of tea this morning

Both the above examples are wrong, because they are not accompanied by a simple past event.
The correct answers are: I took two cups of tea; I lived in Canada 1980s.

Similarly, even if there is more the one event, say two, three or four, you can not mark all of them with past perfect. At least, one function should be there in simple past, naturally the last of the events, to expose the chronological difference

3. When the events that occurred in the past are not distinguishable in regard to the timing, or if they occurred at the same time, then only simple past should be used for all the events.

Ex: As I entered the room, I was shocked to see the students snoring
Here, entering and being shocked are happening at the same time. You can not say one is earlier than the other. So use simple past for both.
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Re: rule for simple past and past perfect [#permalink]

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05 Oct 2010, 01:55
Read all the tenses here http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/pastperfect.html - especially past perfect.

very well explained.
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Re: rule for simple past and past perfect [#permalink]

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05 Oct 2010, 05:07
good explanation Daagh & hussain...thanks +1
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Re: rule for simple past and past perfect [#permalink]

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18 Mar 2013, 10:07
daagh wrote:
Usage of past tense and past perfect tense

Use of past perfect is essentially a chronological factor, when two events that started and ended in the past are to be marked with proper tenses. In this scenario, the one that is clearly the earlier, will be in past perfect and the one that is later in simple past. Supposing there were more than two event the last of one of the series of action will entail a simple past tense, while the all the previous ones will entail use of past perfect.

Thus, to cite an example,

1. I had woken up pretty late in the morning and darted to the office like a bullet.

Only two events and hence the last one is in simple past and the earlier one is in past perfect.

2. I had woken up, pretty late, taken bath quickly, eaten my breakfast in a gulp and darted to the office like a bullet.
More than two events, only the last one in simple past and all the other earlier ones, though more than one, marked in past perfect.

By logical predication, a past perfect can not exist alone without an accompanying simple past. Thus when only one event is involved, you can not express it in the past perfect.

Ex; I had taken two cups of tea this morning

Both the above examples are wrong, because they are not accompanied by a simple past event.
The correct answers are: I took two cups of tea; I lived in Canada 1980s.

Similarly, even if there is more the one event, say two, three or four, you can not mark all of them with past perfect. At least, one function should be there in simple past, naturally the last of the events, to expose the chronological difference

3. When the events that occurred in the past are not distinguishable in regard to the timing, or if they occurred at the same time, then only simple past should be used for all the events.

Ex: As I entered the room, I was shocked to see the students snoring
Here, entering and being shocked are happening at the same time. You can not say one is earlier than the other. So use simple past for both.

Hi,

As per you explanation, will you please clarify the following example. For me both A and B looks correct. If its not, will you please clarify.

1. A 1972 agreement between Canada and the United States reduced the amount of phosphates that municipalities had been allowed to dump into the Great Lakes.

(A) reduced the amount of phosphates that municipalities had been allowed to dump
(B) reduced the phosphate amount that municipalities had been dumping
(C) reduces the phosphate amount municipalities have been allowed to dump
(D) reduced the amount of phosphates that municipalities are allowed to dump
(E) reduces the amount of phosphates allowed for dumping by municipalities

The correct answer is A. Why not B or D ?
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Re: rule for simple past and past perfect [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2013, 07:56
kabilank87 wrote:
daagh wrote:
Usage of past tense and past perfect tense

Use of past perfect is essentially a chronological factor, when two events that started and ended in the past are to be marked with proper tenses. In this scenario, the one that is clearly the earlier, will be in past perfect and the one that is later in simple past. Supposing there were more than two event the last of one of the series of action will entail a simple past tense, while the all the previous ones will entail use of past perfect.

Thus, to cite an example,

1. I had woken up pretty late in the morning and darted to the office like a bullet.

Only two events and hence the last one is in simple past and the earlier one is in past perfect.

2. I had woken up, pretty late, taken bath quickly, eaten my breakfast in a gulp and darted to the office like a bullet.
More than two events, only the last one in simple past and all the other earlier ones, though more than one, marked in past perfect.

By logical predication, a past perfect can not exist alone without an accompanying simple past. Thus when only one event is involved, you can not express it in the past perfect.

Ex; I had taken two cups of tea this morning

Both the above examples are wrong, because they are not accompanied by a simple past event.
The correct answers are: I took two cups of tea; I lived in Canada 1980s.

Similarly, even if there is more the one event, say two, three or four, you can not mark all of them with past perfect. At least, one function should be there in simple past, naturally the last of the events, to expose the chronological difference

3. When the events that occurred in the past are not distinguishable in regard to the timing, or if they occurred at the same time, then only simple past should be used for all the events.

Ex: As I entered the room, I was shocked to see the students snoring
Here, entering and being shocked are happening at the same time. You can not say one is earlier than the other. So use simple past for both.

Hi,

As per you explanation, will you please clarify the following example. For me both A and B looks correct. If its not, will you please clarify.

1. A 1972 agreement between Canada and the United States reduced the amount of phosphates that municipalities had been allowed to dump into the Great Lakes.

(A) reduced the amount of phosphates that municipalities had been allowed to dump
(B) reduced the phosphate amount that municipalities had been dumping
(C) reduces the phosphate amount municipalities have been allowed to dump
(D) reduced the amount of phosphates that municipalities are allowed to dump
(E) reduces the amount of phosphates allowed for dumping by municipalities

The correct answer is A. Why not B or D ?

Hi, I was quite confused by your answer A, for me it was obvious it was D, so I check on the GMAT Club an I have found your answer: a-1972-agreement-between-canada-and-the-united-states-reduce-82589-360.html

Hope it helps!
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Re: rule for simple past and past perfect [#permalink]

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22 Oct 2015, 04:50
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Re: rule for simple past and past perfect   [#permalink] 22 Oct 2015, 04:50
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