1. doctortt
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    doctortt New Member

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    Need some grammar help with the usage of "had"

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by doctortt, Jan 20, 2013.

    All, please take a look at this sentence that i picked out from a book: "When they had originally chosen their posters in the laboratory, the participants who had been asked to carefully consider the pros and cons of each print were confident that they had made the right choice."

    I always get confused with the usage of "had." Can someone please explain? I was told that when you have two past events, the event that took place first will require "had" and the recent past event doesn't.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Google past perfect tense.

    Past perfect tense is comprised of the auxiliary verb "had" with the past participle of the principal verb. In most, but not all, cases, the past participle is spelled and pronounced like the past tense:

    I walked. I had walked.
    I read. I had read.
    I fought. I had fought.

    In other cases, they differ:
    I ran. I had run.
    I swam. I had swum.
    I spoke. I had spoken.

    When you have two past events, using past perfect tense for the earlier event is one way of nailing down that time relationship.

    By the time I heard the breathing behind me, the assailant had swung the sap at my skull.

    But the uses of past perfect extend beyond that, so do check other sources via the google search.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't see the second 'had' being necessary in that sentence... 'were' would be better there than 'had been'... overuse of 'had' in such instances is common among newish writers... and is even committed occasionally by the pros...
     
  4. Jack Dawkins
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    Jack Dawkins Member

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    I don't see the necessity for the first had in the sentence.. When they originally chose the posters in the labratory, the participants who had been asked... is that wrong?
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that works, too... it just doesn't need all those 'had's...
     

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