'Cause I saw the end before we'd begun

SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
Did I disappoint you or let you down?
Should I be feeling guilty or let the judges frown?

'Cause I saw the end before we'd begun.
Yes, I saw you were blinded and I knew I had won.
(Goodbye My Lover; James Blunt)

14.27

I saw him before he had seen me. [13]

Sentence [13] appears to be paradoxical in that the second in the succession of events is marked with the past perfective, contrary to what we have noted above in after- and when-clauses. The explanation is that the before-clause in [13] may be nonfactual; that is to say, the event in the before-clause may not have taken place ('He did not get a chance to see me, because I evaded him').
(A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language; R. Quirk)

I'm aware of this structure and I think I asked a similar question not long ago. Those couple of times I've come accross it the before-clause was exactly what R. Quirk et al. said - nonfactual. But it seems not to be the case here. What would be your explanation? ("It's a song." :) (?))

Thanks.
 
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I can't see anything unusual in the past perfect had begun.

    I could see the towers of Paris before we had arrived at the city limits.

    I don't know how this use of the past perfect is conventionally explained in grammars. Maybe you can see it as kind of reported thought: I could see the towers of Paris before I could say "we have arrived".
     

    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    I can't see anything unusual in the past perfect had begun.
    So, you'd feel no difference between 1) and 2), would you:

    1) I had seen him before he saw me.
    2) I saw him before he had seen me.

    Thanks.

    I don't know how this use of the past perfect is conventionally explained in grammars.
    I have found only one explanation throughout the years, and it's the one I provided in my first post (granted, it's taken me all those years to just finish that one grammar, so I couldn't thoroughly concentrate on any others :).
     
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