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  1. spur09

    spur09 New Member

    Oct 18, 2012
    Likes Received:

    Question about past perfect tense.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by spur09, Nov 7, 2012.

    When writing, I sometimes get confused with the past perfect tense-- specifically when to stop using it and switch back to simple past even when we are still talking about something that happened prior to the narrative past.

    Take the following example.

    I walked into the room. She was sitting there, looking pale and tired. I noticed the cigarette burn on her shirt.

    "Are you using again?" I asked.

    "No." She replied.

    I did not believe her. That morning I had called. Her voice had sounded distant. There had been long pauses between my words and hers.


    I did not believe her. That morning I had called. Her voice had sounded distant. There were long pauses between my words and hers.

    Is one of these right / the other wrong. I have been told that once the time has been clearly established, it is ok to switch back from past perfect to past. Are both these sentences ok?
  2. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
    Likes Received:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Don't know if this helps but maybe just eliminate the had's & were's altogether.

    I didn't believe her. This morning when I
    called, her voice sounded distant with long pauses between my words and hers.
  3. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Dec 30, 2010
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    "had been" is correct. "were" is all right but it doesn't express the meaning half as clearly, and clarity is always better.

    However, when a dialogue tag, such as "she said" follows the direct speech, the direct speech requires a comma to finish it, not a period. eg. "No," she said. As you have it right now, it is wrong.

    Secondly, your sentences below:

    It sounds stunted, like you're not sure how to connect your ideas together. I'd think about rewriting it.

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