After he (leave) Rome, he (go) to Venice.

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RafaelX

Senior Member
Polish
Hello!

The example comes from a course book and the choice is between Past Simple and Past Perfect. It goes just like I put it in the title: After he (leave) Rome, he (go) to Venice.

I am tempted to say that both versions (that is: After he left Rome, he went to Venice. and After he had left Rome, he went to Venice.) are legitimate. But...are they?

Cheers,
Rafael
 
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    I think they are. They mean different things. "After he left... he went..." implies that one event followed the other immediately. "After he had left... he went..." implies that something happened between the two events. It would take a particular context to make sense out of the second one.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I don't really agree, James. As a speaker of BE** I would automatically use the past perfect.

    After he had left Rome, he went to Venice.

    That said, these days the use of the past tense in both clauses in sentences such as these is becoming very common (but the meaning stays the same), so I am not going to say that it is wrong .

    ** Not a young speaker of BE. which makes a world of difference, I'm sure.;)
     

    RafaelX

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I think they are. They mean different things. "After he left... he went..." implies that one event followed the other immediately. "After he had left... he went..." implies that something happened between the two events. It would take a particular context to make sense out of the second one.
    That's more or less how I would understand the difference. :)

    I don't really agree, James. As a speaker of BE** I would automatically use the past perfect.

    After he had left Rome, he went to Venice.
    What about one action happening immediately after another, london calling? I was taught that we should describe/relate such actions in Past Simple. Therefore, if I wanted to say that after somebody left one place she/he immediately went to some other place, I would do it by means of Past Simple.
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    This is interesting to me.

    Would you say "After he had picked up the dry cleaning, he went home?" As far as I know, a series of completed events in the past can use the simple past for each event. Is the "after" the signal for the past perfect for you?

    What about "After he shot the woman he ran out the back door"? Would that call for past perfect as well?

    I'm not challenging the choice. I'm just trying to understand when it applies.

    I did find this:

    http://www.ego4u.com/en/cram-up/grammar/simpas-pasper
    *Note: "After" is only used as a signal word for Past Perfect if it is followed by a subject + verb, meaning that one action had been completed before another action began (the new action is in Simple Past).
    This rule seems to fit your choice.
     
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    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Yes, that's exactly the rule I go by.;) And yes, as I see it, it also applies to "After he had shot the woman he ran out the back door".

    It's to do with sequencing. There are two past actions, but one precedes the other, hence the use of the past perfect. I would however use the past simple when describing a sequence of events such as this:

    I got up, had a shower, had breakfast and drove to work.
     

    RafaelX

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Yes, that's exactly the rule I go by.;) And yes, as I see it, it also applies to "After he had shot the woman he ran out the back door".

    It's to do with sequencing. There are two past actions, but one precedes the other, hence the use of the past perfect.
    I don't mind using Past Perfect in such cases :), however, it seems redundant since it is obvious from the context which action happened first and which one followed.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Perhaps the problem is that the "after" clauses are less than ideal for these contexts. Would it not be better to say "Having shot the woman, he..." or "He left Rome and went to..."?
     

    RafaelX

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Perhaps the problem is that the "after" clauses are less than ideal for these contexts. Would it not be better to say "Having shot the woman, he..." or "He left Rome and went to..."?
    It would certainly solve our dilemma, but...such is the example they want you to consider in that course book. :)
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I don't mind using Past Perfect in such cases :), however, it seems redundant since it is obvious from the context which action happened first and which one followed.
    It isn't a question of redundancy, it's a question of grammar.:)

    However, this is one of those rules which is often ignored, especially by the younger generations, as I mentioned above (and from my experience with AE speakers, both here and in their natural habitat:D, I would venture to suggest that the Brits use the past perfect more than North Americans, just as we tend to use the present perfect more than they do, athough I am of course generalising).

    As a matter of interest, which sentence is correct, according to your course book?
     
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    RafaelX

    Senior Member
    Polish
    As a matter of interest, which sentence is correct, according to your course book?
    I have no idea, as I don't have the key yet. :) But I am willing to stake a large sum of money that it recommends using Past Perfect and I can easily explain why I think so. :) As I already mentioned some time ago, most schools in Europe (or at least in European Union) use British English as the standard variety of English. However, I will try to get the key and when I do, I will confirm (or not, but it is highly unlikely) the opinion that I've just ventured.
     
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    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hello!

    The example comes from a course book and the choice is between Past Simple and Past Perfect. It goes just like I put it in the title: After he (leave) Rome, he (go) to Venice.

    I am tempted to say that both versions (that is: After he left Rome, he went to Venice. and After he had left Rome, he went to Venice.) are legitimate. But...are they?

    Cheers,
    Rafael
    Wait just a moment. Surely the question refers to both verbs - doesn't it?

    (a) After he left Rome, he went to Venice.

    (b) After he had left Rome, he had gone to Venice.

    In that case, only (a) is correct.
     

    RafaelX

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Wait just a moment. Surely the question refers to both verbs - doesn't it?

    (a) After he left Rome, he went to Venice.

    (b) After he had left Rome, he had gone to Venice.

    In that case, only (a) is correct.
    Well, it does not (at least it doesn't say so anywhere) force us to use the same tense in both gaps at one time. That is why we also need to consider:

    (c) After he had left Rome, he went to Venice.

    :)
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Well, it does not (at least it doesn't say so anywhere) force us to use the same tense in both gaps at one time. That is why we also need to consider:

    (c) After he had left Rome, he went to Venice.

    :)
    (d) After he left Rome, he had gone to Venice. ;)
     
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