1. simina
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    simina Senior Member

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    How do you feel about past perfect tense?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by simina, Jun 20, 2012.

    I feel like it's so awkward and unnatural. Do you think it's acceptable to write in past perfect tense to introduce an event as having occurred in the past, but then go on to describe the subsequent events in simple past tense?

    It just sounds weird to have a million "have/had/'d"s polluting your writing, don't you think?
     
  2. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's got a few limited legitimate uses, but I agree it's kinda awkward. I wouldn't recommend using it too much if you can help it.
     
  3. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    That's what it's used for. If the story is written in past tense, that is the same as "happening now". So if you wish to write about things happening before the "now" of the story, you must use past perfect.

    ex., He rode his bike to the store. Yesterday he had popped his front tire and spent all day repairing it.
     
  4. simina
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    simina Senior Member

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    @JackElliott

    Yeah but what if you want to write a lengthy passage about the tire popping? Is it acceptable to just switch to simple past tense after the initial past perfect tense introduction?
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's a tool. Us it when you need it.
     
  6. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    I think it's nice, actually. I write in the past tense so often I need to locate something within the past itself and different past tenses are the way to do that... Don't see anything wrong here.
     
  7. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    Acceptable, yes. This is the idea behind flashbacks (good ones anyway). If you are writing a story in simple past tense ("He rode his bike to the store"), past perfect is used for anything that happens before the events you are currently writing about.

    So, "Yesterday he had popped his front tire and spent all day fixing it." This sets up the 'past-past', in a sense. In other words, the past before the past.

    So, if you wanted to continue, you would, eventually, slip back into simple past:

    Yesterday he had popped his front tire and spent all day worrying and fixing it. The bike actually belonged to Billy, his younger brother. He had stole it from the garage, thinking he'd be back from the store before anyone else knew. About halfway into his ride, as the road wound up through the neighborhood, he found himself having to stand up and grind the pedals forward, and that was when the tire gave out. It hissed ... blah blah blah.
     
  8. simina
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    simina Senior Member

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    Ok cool thanks
     

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