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# Usage of PastPerfect.

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Intern
Joined: 14 Dec 2015
Posts: 46
Concentration: Entrepreneurship, General Management
WE: Information Technology (Computer Software)

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25 Jan 2016, 06:52
Does GMAT allows the usage of Past Perfect when the sequence of events are comprehensible with usage of either after or before?

Example:(picked from Aristotle SC Grail)

Simple Past: Before John won the lottery, he was a poor locksmith.
Past Perfect: Before John won the lottery, he had been a poor locksmith.

I guess GMAT prefers simplicity, and in above example 'Before' gives a clear idea about the sequence of events. IMO rewritten version in P.Perfect is unnecessary.
And interestingly, SC grail prefers Past perfect version as correct over to simple past.

FYI: MGMAT suggests to prefer simple past that makes sense to me.

Pros out there share your opinions.. and please clear the clouds for me!

Thanks
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Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4485

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25 Jan 2016, 12:32
snorkeler wrote:
Does GMAT allows the usage of Past Perfect when the sequence of events are comprehensible with usage of either after or before?

Example:(picked from Aristotle SC Grail)

Simple Past: Before John won the lottery, he was a poor locksmith.
Past Perfect: Before John won the lottery, he had been a poor locksmith.

I guess GMAT prefers simplicity, and in above example 'Before' gives a clear idea about the sequence of events. IMO rewritten version in P.Perfect is unnecessary.
And interestingly, SC grail prefers Past perfect version as correct over to simple past.

FYI: MGMAT suggests to prefer simple past that makes sense to me.

Pros out there share your opinions.. and please clear the clouds for me!

Thanks

Dear snorkeler,
I'm happy to respond.

In general, the GMAT is against redundancy of all kinds. Toward that end, it leans away from use of the past perfect when other elements clearly make the time-sequence obvious. Thus:

Simple Past: Before John won the lottery, he was a poor locksmith. = This would be 100% acceptable on the GMAT SC.

Past Perfect: Before John won the lottery, he had been a poor locksmith. = This is not completely wrong. If this were an answer choice in a SC, it couldn't be eliminated just on the basis of using the past perfect. The GMAT probably would include other mistakes with the past perfect here, to eliminate it, but it is possible that the past perfect could be part of a correct answer.

It is 100% false to say that the Past Perfect is preferred in this context. The Simple Past is preferred, although the Past Perfect could be acceptable.

I would recommend trusting MGMAT and Magoosh as authorities on GMAT SC. Here's a free sample lesson from Magoosh on another topic:
https://gmat.magoosh.com/lessons/944-su ... ve-clauses

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)
Manhattan Prep Instructor
Joined: 04 Dec 2015
Posts: 729
GMAT 1: 790 Q51 V49
GRE 1: Q170 V170

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21 Feb 2016, 16:46
snorkeler wrote:
Does GMAT allows the usage of Past Perfect when the sequence of events are comprehensible with usage of either after or before?

Example:(picked from Aristotle SC Grail)

Simple Past: Before John won the lottery, he was a poor locksmith.
Past Perfect: Before John won the lottery, he had been a poor locksmith.

I guess GMAT prefers simplicity, and in above example 'Before' gives a clear idea about the sequence of events. IMO rewritten version in P.Perfect is unnecessary.
And interestingly, SC grail prefers Past perfect version as correct over to simple past.

FYI: MGMAT suggests to prefer simple past that makes sense to me.

Pros out there share your opinions.. and please clear the clouds for me!

Thanks

This isn't the kind of issue that you want to base a decision on while doing an SC problem. It's possible that the GMAT prefers one form over another, but in this situation, both are grammatically correct. (The grammatical rule for using the past perfect is exactly what you've said - it's grammatical to use it if and only if the sentence shows a sequence of events, all of which happened in the past. In that case, you use it for the earlier of two events.) If either option is grammatically correct, even if one is slightly wordier or more idiomatic than the other, then you're almost certainly dealing with a false split that's been put into the problem to mislead you and disguise the real issue. Instead of using something like this, keep searching the answer choices for a grammar issue where one side is clearly (logically or grammatically) incorrect.
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Re: Usage of PastPerfect.   [#permalink] 21 Feb 2016, 16:46
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