had planned/were planning

mimi2

Senior Member
vietnam vietnamese
Hi,
My book says these sentences are the same but I am not satisfied:
1. We had planned to visit grandmother, so we left early in the morning.
2. We were planning to visit grandmother, so we left early in the morning.
Thanks.
 
  • Pnevma

    Senior Member
    English,USA
    They are, indeed the same.
    DO you have a specific question concerning the sentences?
     

    zangoose87

    Member
    English (Australia)
    I think both are correct but the second sounds better according to grammatical logic, because it implies that you planned the trip before you left.
     

    mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    They are, indeed the same.
    DO you have a specific question concerning the sentences?
    Because I think the usage of the past perfect is not right in this sentence. If it is the sentence I will write below, it will be better:
    1."We had a plan to visit grandmother, so we left early in the morning."
    And this sentence is the same:
    2. "We were visiting grandmother, so we left early in the morning."
    Am I right?
    Thanks.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Hi,
    My book says these sentences are the same but I am not satisfied:
    1. We had planned to visit grandmother, so we left early in the morning.
    2. We were planning to visit grandmother, so we left early in the morning.
    Thanks.
    Mimi,

    The problem with such sentences (examples) is that they are not in context.

    Alone, without context, they cause us to "over-think". I don't really like either sentence, and they do nothing to make the difference the two tenses clear.

    Here is an example of how I would use one or the other:

    1. We had planned to visit grandmother for some time before we finally found an opportunity to do so.

    2. We were planning to visit grandmother last week just when we found out that a snowstorm was about to hit her area, making a visit impossible.

    This is really tough to explain. :(

    Gaer
     

    zangoose87

    Member
    English (Australia)
    Because I think the usage of the past perfect is not right in this sentence. If it is the sentence I will write below, it will be better:
    1."We had a plan to visit grandmother, so we left early in the morning."
    And this sentence is the same:
    2. "We were visiting grandmother, so we left early in the morning."
    Am I right?
    Thanks.

    I think the first sentence is fine but it's very different from the first sentence you posted initially. The second sentence doesn't seem correct to me because it's a bit different from the others and it doesn't really make much sense logically.

    I would fix it by saying "We were going to visit grandmother, so we left early in the morning."
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Gaer.
    The meaning of the first sentence is understandable. I have learned a lot.
    The second is completely new to me.
    I alsways think that "were planning" is "intended" or "were going to"
    I don't know it has another meaning "making a visit impossible"
    When we use "were planning", we are expressing the idea that we are doing something WHILE something else happens.

    I was planning to leave the computer when I saw your question in this thread. I answered your question before getting something to drink.

    Your question arrived WHILE I was planning to leave…

    I had planned to stop answering threads by midnight, but I decided to stay online a bit longer to help.

    I planned to leave by be midnight BEFORE I changed my plans.

    The use of "had planned", "was planning" and "planned" is not always "fixed in stone".

    Textbooks often attempt to define tenses more precisely than the way they are actually used by very fine writers. There is not always a clear A or B winner. :)

    Gaer
     

    mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    When we use "were planning", we are expressing the idea that we are doing something WHILE something else happens.

    I was planning to leave the computer when I saw your question in this thread. I answered your question before getting something to drink.

    Your question arrived WHILE I was planning to leave…

    I had planned to stop answering threads by midnight, but I decided to stay online a bit longer to help.

    I planned to leave by be midnight BEFORE I changed my plans.

    The use of "had planned", "was planning" and "planned" is not always "fixed in stone".

    Textbooks often attempt to define tenses more precisely than the way they are actually used by very fine writers. There is not always a clear A or B winner. :)

    Gaer
    Thank you, Gaer, very much.
    Please go back to my initial question. Is my doubt about the two sentence correct? Are they not exactly the same?
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Thank you, Gaer, very much.
    Please go back to my initial question. Is my doubt about the two sentence correct? Are they not exactly the same?
    I answered that already. I can't make a judgement. There is not enough information. Either one of those sentences may or may not sound fine to me. It would depend upon what sentences came before and after.

    If I were teaching English, I would refuse to use these sentences for anything. I think they are confusing. :)

    Gaer

    PS - Only "judgment" is normally accepted in AE, but I stubbornly stick to the BE "judgement" as much more logical. ;)
     

    mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    I think the first sentence is fine but it's very different from the first sentence you posted initially. The second sentence doesn't seem correct to me because it's a bit different from the others and it doesn't really make much sense logically.

    I would fix it by saying "We were going to visit grandmother, so we left early in the morning."
    Hi, zangoose.
    Thank you very much for your kind help.
    I agree with your sentence:We were going to visit grandmother, so we left early in the morning."
    Is it the same as the sentence below:
    " We had a plan to visit grandmother, so we left early in the morning."
    Thanks a lot.
     

    mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    I answered that already. I can't make a judgement. There is not enough information. Either one of those sentences may or may not sound fine to me. It would depend upon what sentences came before and after.

    If I were teaching English, I would refuse to use these sentences for anything. I think they are confusing. :)

    Gaer

    PS - Only "judgment" is normally accepted in AE, but I stubbornly stick to the BE "judgement" as much more logical. ;)
    Thank you Gear.
    Imagine you were a student. Your teacher asked you to write another sentence from the original sentence "we had planned to visit gramma, so we left early in the morning." how would you write? Please help me. Thanks.:)
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Thank you Gear.
    Imagine you were a student. Your teacher asked you to write another sentence from the original sentence "we had planned to visit gramma, so we left early in the morning." how would you write? Please help me. Thanks.:)
    I would not write that. This is the best I can do:

    "We left early in the morning to visit grandma as we had planned."

    I'm afraid that any teacher who forced me to analyze such sentences would have a war on his/her hands. I refuse to spend serious time grappling with questions that make no sense to me. :)

    Gaer
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    Mimi,

    I agree with Gaer that overly restrictive definitions of the different tenses can sometimes be misleading. Nevertheless, the real difference between "had planned" and "were planning" is that the first is past perfect, the second is imperfect (or past progressive) tense. I know you have a grammar reference you could use to review the differences between those two tenses. The position in time of the narrator is probably the most important determiner of which tense you use. The confusion in the examples you gave is that the position in time of the narrator could be the same for both sentences. That is why they are both correct and almost the same semantically. It's also worth remembering that using the progressive, "were planning", implies an action in progress at a time in the past, a continuous period of time (during which they were making this plan); whereas the past perfect "had planned" refers to a completed action in past time (the usual definition refers to an action completed in the past prior to some other past event). That's part of the nuance, but again, they are fairly interchangeable because the narrator could be sitting right here looking backwards into the past and saying either sentence.
     
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