<Burying herself/Having buried herself> In her books

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Robby Zhu

Senior Member
China - Mandarin
Hi!
Some people say that the first sentence can be phrase as the two sentences that follows.

Because she buried herself in her books, she didn't know it was raining outside.

1, Burying herself in her books, she didn'tknow it was raining outside.
2, Buried in her books, she didn't know itwas raining outside.

But my take is that sentence 1 is not grammatical. It should be "Having buried herself...."
What do you think? Thanks in advance.
 
  • grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I don't know about ungrammatical but 1 is strange in the sense there's no obvious logical connection between the participle phrase and the clause that follows.
    2 means that she didn't know it was raining outside because she was buried in her books.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You’re right about backshifting it, but that needs to be done in the original sentence, which doesn’t make sense as it stands.

    Because she buried herself in her books, she didn't know it was raining outside. :confused:
    (The tense here implies a habitual action, which doesn’t work in relation to one particular consequence.)
    Because she had buried herself in her books, she didn't know it was raining outside. :tick:
     

    Robby Zhu

    Senior Member
    China - Mandarin
    Hi,lingobingo
    So you mean if two actions happened subsequently, the first action should be in the past perfect, and the second action the simple past.
    I thought ,for the first action, the past simple was a possible alternative(in informal conversations) .
    I understand now ,thanks!
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    No. I don’t think you do understand. Maybe my misuse of the word consequence confused you. If so, sorry. I should have said occasion.

    I did not mean that the past perfect is necessary because the actions are consecutive (which is presumably what you mean by subsequent?). They are not. They are simultaneous.

    What I did mean was that the past perfect is necessary to convey that she had buried herself in her books on a single, specific occasion, on which it happened to be raining. The simple past statement (highlighted in green below) does not convey that; instead, it implies a habitual situation or action (just as the same thing said in the simple present would).

    Yesterday… / The day I visited her… / On this particular occasion…
    because she buried herself in her books, she didn't know it was raining outside. :cross:
    because she had buried herself in her books, she didn't know it was raining outside. :tick:
    because she was buried in her books, she didn't know it was raining outside. :tick:
    It can instead be made into a statement about a habitual situation, but only if you make that clear:
    Because she [always] buried herself in her books, she never even noticed if it was raining outside. :tick:
     

    Robby Zhu

    Senior Member
    China - Mandarin
    Thanks for your detailed explanation.:thumbsup:
    Previously ,I understood that this was a specific occasion.
    My idea is that she had buried herself, and then she came into the state of "She being buried in books."(she had finished the action of "burying" before went into the state),and then she failed to notice what is happening outside.So "bury" is an action before "not notice".That's why I think it was consecutive.
    You treat "had buried." as a state. So you think "had buried" and "didn't notice"are simultaneous.

    So I think I pictured the situation right, but I didn't make myself clear.
     

    Robby Zhu

    Senior Member
    China - Mandarin
    Hi, grassy and lingobingo.
    I just came up with a relevant question. Is past perfect also necessary, if I use a when-clause?

    When she had buried herself in books(a specific occasion,yesterday afternoon, for example), she didn't notice it was raining outside.

    If I say “when she buried herself in...”instead ,does the simple past tense also indicate habitual in this case?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You’re getting this all wrong by not separating out in your mind the difference between expressing an action (something you do) and a state (something you are).

    And because you’re trying to come up with different versions of a bad sentence.
     

    Robby Zhu

    Senior Member
    China - Mandarin
    Oh, okay, I think I shall leave the question alone for the time being.Maybe I will understand it better sometime later.
     
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