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# The first time that Larry walked down the ramp, laden with

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Manager
Joined: 12 Aug 2010
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Re: Past Perfect or not....? [#permalink]

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13 Dec 2010, 00:42
VeritasPrepBrian wrote:
Hey guys,

To the original question of this post, you'll only use past perfect if:

Two things happened at different times in the past
It's necessary to designate that they happened at different times

So, for example, if I were to talk about a triathlon, I would say:

In last week's triathlon, I swam a mile, biked 40 miles, and ran 8 miles.

The intent of that sentence is to say that all three happened in the same event, so grammatically they all happened more or less "simultaneously".

If the intent of the sentence changes, though, then it may dictate the use of the past-perfect:

In last week's triathlon, I had already swam and biked nearly 50 miles before I even started running.

In this sentence, the intent is to separate the swim/bike to have happened at an earlier point in time than the run, and past-perfect tense accomplishes that grammatically.

So, as for the sentence in this thread, Larry walked, tripped, and fell all at the "same time" logically - it's all "the first time he walked down the ramp". Because we're talking about these three events in the same context of time, there's no need for past-perfect, so we'll only use past tense.

If the sentence were changed to something like:

"Larry had walked down the ramp dozens of times, but the first time he did so laden with packages he tripped and fell...", then there's a need for past-perfect, because we need to demonstrate that the previous walks happened at an earlier time.

Thanks Brian,

But shouldn't there be a comma after ramp in D?
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Manager
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Re: Past Perfect or not....? [#permalink]

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13 Dec 2010, 14:46
I just don't see how the answer can possibly be anything other than D.

(A) Larry walked down the ramp, laden with packages,

Misplaced modifier. I have read some of the responses in this thread...maybe it is a difference between having a natural ear for English as a first language versus learning it in school as a second language, but IMHO it would be pretty awkward in this context to say that a ramp was laden with packages. On the other hand, it is relatively common place to say that that someone is laden with certain objects. In particular, groceries come to mind. It is not at all uncommon to say something like "Mary, laden with groceries, ..." meaning that Mary was carrying lots of groceries.

(B) Larry walked, laden with packages, down the ramp

misplaced modifier.

(C) Larry walked down the ramp, with laden packages,

misplaced modifier
(D) Larry, laden with packages, walked down the ramp

IMHO the correct answer. "laden with packages" most logically relates to Larry,at least to my native ear. Someone questioned whether there should be a comma at the end and the answer is no. Taking out the modifier you have "The first time that Larry walked down the ramp he tripped and nearly dislocated his shoulder", which makes sense (grammatically and otherwise).

there is no later past event to compare this earlier event to, so past perfect should not be used.

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Re: Past Perfect or not....? [#permalink]

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13 Dec 2010, 19:13
Okay, I selected D as well because the modifiers were clear in this choice. Larry was laden with packages while he walked down the ramp. the problem I have with it is there is no comma after ramp - this would not directly go with he. Without a comma we have a run-on.

Some have said D is the OA, how do you know this? Thanks

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Manager
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Re: Past Perfect or not....? [#permalink]

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13 Dec 2010, 19:43
gettinit wrote:
Okay, I selected D as well because the modifiers were clear in this choice. Larry was laden with packages while he walked down the ramp. the problem I have with it is there is no comma after ramp - this would not directly go with he. Without a comma we have a run-on.

Some have said D is the OA, how do you know this? Thanks

I guess i'm just not seeing why a comma needs to go there. Without the modifier it reads:

"The first time that Larry walked down the ramp he tripped and nearly dislocated his shoulder"

...which is a perfectly acceptable sentence.

It is similar to saying "The first time I took the GMAT I bombed it and almost gave up going to business school."

In either case a comma shouldn't be needed. What am I missing here?

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Manager
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Re: Past Perfect or not....? [#permalink]

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17 Dec 2010, 19:26
I dont think you can complete D without a comma and here is my reasoning:

D) The first time that Larry, laden with packages, walked down the ramp he tripped and nearly dislocated his shoulder

Does this sound right to you, to me it did not as it should ready: Larry, laden with pacakges, walked down the ramp, he tripped and nearly dislocated his shoulder.

You need a comma or pause here because walk down the ramp is a separate thought then he tripped and nearly dislocated his shoulder.

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Re: Past Perfect or not....? [#permalink]

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17 Dec 2010, 19:29
I guess we are just going to have to agree to disagree on this one

To me, he does sound 100% correct without the pause, and with the pause, just sounds plain odd.

The part that starts with "he" is simply a continuation of the first part of the sentence. This is quite different than a situation like: "Larry walked down the ramp, tripped over packages, and dislocated his shoulder."

gettinit wrote:
I dont think you can complete D without a comma and here is my reasoning:

D) The first time that Larry, laden with packages, walked down the ramp he tripped and nearly dislocated his shoulder

Does this sound right to you, to me it did not as it should ready: Larry, laden with pacakges, walked down the ramp, he tripped and nearly dislocated his shoulder.

You need a comma or pause here because walk down the ramp is a separate thought then he tripped and nearly dislocated his shoulder.

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Manager
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Re: Past Perfect or not....? [#permalink]

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17 Dec 2010, 19:45
haha, sure thing. I sure wish we had the OA for this. If it is D, then I'd be happy and your explanations certainly point to why a comma may not be needed. good discussion!

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Re: Past Perfect or not....?   [#permalink] 17 Dec 2010, 19:45

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