had finally run / ran out of patience

Couch Tomato

Senior Member
Russian & Dutch
From Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English 2:

Complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first sentence, using the word given.

Having explained things three times, Simon’s patience was exhausted.

run

Having explained things three times, Simon …….. patience.


They key suggests, ‘Having explained things three times, Simon had (finally) run out of patience’ but I don’t understand why we need to say “had run.”

Why not just “… Simon finally ran out of patience”?

Thank you in advance.
 
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  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think both suggested answers are grammatically correct, but I think a clue to the answer they wanted is in their question. The answer should have 'a similar meaning to the first sentence', and I think that 'had run out of' is more similar to 'was exhausted' than simply 'ran out of'.

    A better grammarian than I could probably explain it in more formal terms . . .
     

    Couch Tomato

    Senior Member
    Russian & Dutch
    Thank you.

    However, I'm not quite sure how we can justify the use of the past perfect here. My understanding is that if we use the past perfect, we need two evens that follow each other. For example, 'When Sarah arrived at the party, Paul had already gone home.' First Paul goes home, then Sarah arrives at the party.

    Having explained things three times, Simon had (finally) run out of patience

    But here he first explains it for the third time, then he runs out of patience, or so it seems to be the logical order. Why then do we use had run out of patience for the event that happens last?
     

    Skin

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I agree with heypresto. Is "running out of patience" really the last event to happen? I see "was exhausted" as a process that took a period of time to develop, rather than a punctual event: he didn't "get exhausted", he already was, which implies that his amount of patience had gradually decreased over time. It started to happen from the beginning and was complete after the third explanation.

    In other words: "When he explained things for the third time, he had (already) run out of patience (that is, he was exhausted).

    Just my own interpretation, of course. Bye.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Why not just “… Simon finally ran out of patience”?
    Why not, indeed? In fact, I see no particular justification for the past perfect here.
    And by the way, the initial sentence presented by this presumed authority is incorrect: "Having explained three times, Simon's patience was exhausted" says that Simon's patience, not Simon himself, has been doing the explaining. That of course makes no sense.
     

    Couch Tomato

    Senior Member
    Russian & Dutch
    Why not, indeed? In fact, I see no particular justification for the past perfect here.
    Thanks. I'm glad to hear that! :)

    And by the way, the initial sentence presented by this presumed authority is incorrect: "Having explained three times, Simon's patience was exhausted" says that Simon's patience, not Simon himself, has been doing the explaining. That of course makes no sense.
    Really? Does everyone else agree?
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    And by the way, the initial sentence presented by this presumed authority is incorrect: "Having explained three times, Simon's patience was exhausted" says that Simon's patience, not Simon himself, has been doing the explaining. That of course makes no sense.
    I disagree. "Having practiced intensely for several months, Milliken ran the race in record time." This doesn't imply that his practice ran the race. :)

    [edit] Not quite a parallel to what you said, Parla. I'll have to think about this a little more. [edit edit] Thinking about it further, I think Parla is right, although I would probably skim over it in most situations.

    To me the present perfect makes sense because it describes his state after explaining it. "Finally ran out of patience" describes a further action, while "had run out of patience" describes a state. I think the first sentence is describing a state.
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    I agree with Heypresto and James M. that both "had finally run out" and "had ran out" are both fine, and I also agree with James's reasoning. The difference is subtle, but there is a slight difference in emphasis, or so it seems to me.

    I do, however, agree with Parla that the wording of the original sentence is a bit awkward. Yes, people would definitely know what was meant, but it does rather sound as though Simon's patience has been doing a lot of explaining. The structure is different from your example, James M., because your sentence makes it clear that Milliken was doing the practicing.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    And by the way, the initial sentence presented by this presumed authority is incorrect: "Having explained three times, Simon's patience was exhausted" says that Simon's patience, not Simon himself, has been doing the explaining. That of course makes no sense.
    You're right - "Having explained three times, Simon's patience was exhausted" is an example of a dangling modifier. I should really have spotted this ages ago. :rolleyes:

    Here is one of many sites dealing with this error. It gives as an example "Having finished the assignment, the TV was turned on" - pretty much the same structure as our sentence.

    Link is to Purdue Online Writing Lab.
     

    Couch Tomato

    Senior Member
    Russian & Dutch
    You're right - "Having explained three times, Simon's patience was exhausted" is an example of a dangling modifier. I should really have spotted this ages ago. :rolleyes:

    Here is one of many sites dealing with this error. It gives as an example "Having finished the assignment, the TV was turned on" - pretty much the same structure as our sentence.

    Link is to Purdue Online Writing Lab.
    Thanks for the link. That's a great resource.

    This just goes to show that the University of Cambridge is not infallible... but we already knew that :).
     
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