About Past Perfect

Ant_222   Tuesday, September 14, 2004, 18:58 GMT
Hello all!

"He had graduated from the school before the revolution began."
"He graduated from shcool before the revolution."

Is it ok that in one of the sentences was used the Past Perfect and in the other -- Past Simple? Maybe because in the first example there is an action of the beginning of ww2 and in the other -- only a pointing to time?

Easterner   Tuesday, September 14, 2004, 19:17 GMT
In the first sentence the Past Perfect refers to an event which happened before another event in the past - you want to stress that his graduation preceded the beginning of the revolution. In the second, "revolution" - or rather its beginning - is seen as a point of time, but it only serves as a rough indication of when the graduation happened, the event itself is not stressed.
Ant_222   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 19:11 GMT
Thanks. I incined to this.

Ant_222   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 19:17 GMT
Correction: I inclined to this.

My symbol generator sometimes doesn't support the required typematic delay.

Mxsmanic   Thursday, September 16, 2004, 04:01 GMT
You use the past perfect when it is important to emphasize the anteriority of one past event with respect to another past event. In many cases, context makes chronological sequence clear, and so the past perfect is not necessary (although it is still allowed). For example, in literature the past simple is typically used almost exclusively, the narrative sequence making clear the actual chronological positioning of events; a past perfect would only be used where necessary to eliminate ambiguity in a few specific instances.

In your example, "he had graduated from school before the revolution began" and "he graduated from school before the revolution began" are equivalent, since the sequence of events is obvious either way (thanks to "before" and word order). However, in other cases, you'd need to make the distinction, for example:

The revolution began, and he had finished school.
The revolution began, and he finished school.

In the first construction it's clear that finishing school preceding the revolution. In the second construction the juxtaposition of the two events is not explicitly stated, and is left up to reader inference (most readers would infer that the revolution came first, followed by the finishing of school, since they are stated in that order).
Ant_222   Thursday, September 16, 2004, 19:03 GMT

I knew that in a narrative text, as slong as actions are described without chronology violation (e.g. in order), the Past Simple is often used.

Mxsmanic, in your message you wrote my examples incorrectly. The difference is that in the second one I wrote: "before the revolution", not "before the revolution began". And I was interested if it is possible to use the Past Perfect in it. E.g.: Are the phrases "before the revolution began" and "before the revolution" equivalent from the viewpoint of the use of the Past Perfect?

If to consider the incorrect (e.g. not original) examples in your message, I know that both the tenses are appropriate because, in spite of the fact that there are preceding actions, their order is obvious and we are not aimed to emphasize the preceding.

Thanks for the explanation. And could you explain my original examples?

Ant_222   Thursday, September 16, 2004, 19:13 GMT
Some examples from my grammar book:

I. There is no need to enmphasize preceding
1. When he read the letter he put it in his pocket.
2. After he signed the letter, he asked the secretary to send it off.

II We want to emphasize preceding
1. Afer the sun had set, we decided to return home.
2. I remembered it when they had gone. (It was too late already)

In all the examples there is a preceding and a cosequent action. But that is not true with my original question.

Eric   Friday, September 17, 2004, 17:50 GMT
In your specific example, the use of Past Perfect and Past simple are appropriate. One could, however, use the Past Perfect in the second sentence:

He had graduated from school before the revolution.

This communicates a slightly different tone than your original sentence, basically that 'the revolution' is either ongoing, or that something else happened after 'the revolution' which is more important. The Past simple in the original sentence basically sets forth that things are happening in the past, but doesn't give any information about the chronological order of events. Word order and context clues such as words like 'before' supply the information about chronological order. If you used Past Perfect instead, as in the sentence I wrote above, you establish that 'graduated' is an event that not only occurred in the past, but occurred at an earlier point in the chronological timeline than something else. This 'something else' must be designated, and the reader will expect it to be designated with a verb in the Past simple. That's probably the reason why Mxsmanic just inserted the verb 'began' in your sentence. Native English speakers expect a Past simple verb to follow a Past Perfect verb.

Given that you don't have a Past simple verb in your second sentence, the implied meaning is that 'the revolution' is NOT the 'something else' you're referring to. Sentences following your own must, at some point, designate another event with a Past simple verb to supply this 'something else'. For example:

He had graduated from school before the revolution. Until the war ended, he had remained in hiding.

Now we know that 'the war ended' is the chronological pivot point, NOT 'the revolution'. On a timeline, it would look something like this:

He gratuated-----the revolution happened----he hid-----THE WAR ENDED

It's a matter of stress. If you have a series of different events happening in the past and you want to put the stress on one event, put the events preceding this pivotal point in the Past Perfect and everything else in the Past simple.
Eric   Friday, September 17, 2004, 17:54 GMT
Oh, and in your grammar book, the very last sentence "I remembered it when they had gone," would be better written "I remembered it when they had already gone" if the implied meaning is supposed to be that you remembered too late. The sentence sans 'already' doesn't really draw a connection between your memory and their departure, it merely stresses that you did so after their departure.
Mxsmanic   Friday, September 17, 2004, 18:05 GMT
Sorry for misquoting your examples. I believe the following is correct (since I cut and pasted it to be sure):

"He had graduated from the school before the revolution began."
"He graduated from shcool before the revolution."

I consider these two examples equivalent, or at least they are if you disregard "began." Using this word in the first example makes it very clear that you are talking about the starting point of the revolution; not using it in the second example leaves the exact point in time up to the reader. But this does not change the fact that the two tenses are equivalent in this example. To me, they both say the same thing.
Random Chappie   Sunday, September 19, 2004, 16:59 GMT
English past perfect = French plus-que-parfait (pluperfect).

Now you know, don't you? All is light.
Tom   Monday, September 20, 2004, 16:08 GMT
It is a mistake to think that the past perfect tense refers to an action which happened before another action (described by the past simple tense). In fact, the reverse may be true:

"He went out before I had finished my sentence."

The finishing (past perfect) happens LATER than the going out (past simple).
Ant_222   Monday, September 20, 2004, 18:30 GMT
«He went out before I had finished my sentence.» (Tom)

Hmmm... And why the Past Perfect is used in the chronologically last action here?
Ant_222   Monday, September 20, 2004, 18:41 GMT
I have found the following analogy:

1. «You can't go home before I've signed the letter.»
2. «He went out before I had finished my sentence.»

The second is an analogue of the first but in the past.
And I think, in the second exmple the Past Simple could be used as well (just like the Present Simple in both the parts of the first). Am I right?