He never spoke to me when I was in his class

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Shweggeh

Senior Member
Lithuanian (not certain)
He never spoke to me when I was in his class. <-- It's the same as He never spoke to me while I was in his class (if I wanted to use past perfect, I'd have to say "He had never spoken to me when I left his class")

He had never spoken to me when I was in his class. <-- He had never spoken to me before I was in his class.

He has just spoken to me, he has never done that before. <-- Can this be valid if he has already spoken to me just now, doesn't it like screw up the sequence? Or should it be "He never did (or had never done) that before"?

Are these interpretations alright? I'd like assistance in clarification.
 
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    He never spoke to me when I was in his class. <-- It's the same as He never spoke to me while I was in his class (if I wanted to use past perfect, I'd have to say "He had never spoken to me when I left his class")
    He had never spoken to me when I was in his class. <-- He had never spoken to me before I was in his class.[/quote]
    To me, if you're going to use a pluperfect there you need to make a clearer distinction that the not speaking preceded being in or leaving his class, and I don't think "when" does it. So I'd do those as:
    He had never spoken to me before I joined his class = He started speaking to me during it
    He had never spoken to me by the time I left in his class = He didn't speak to me during it


    He has just spoken to me, he has never done that before. <-- Can this be valid if he has already spoken to me just now, doesn't it like screw up the sequence? Or should it be "He never did (or had never done) that before"?

    Are these interpretations alright? I'd like assistance in clarification.
    That last one is fine: the two events are both referring to something which has only just happened (speaking to you for the first time). If you were referring to something that wasn't recent, then you could in BE use a simple past followed by a pluperfect:
    He spoke to me last week, he had never done that before. :)
     

    Shweggeh

    Senior Member
    Lithuanian (not certain)
    He had never spoken to me before I joined his class = He started speaking to me during it
    He had never spoken to me by the time I left in his class = He didn't speak to me during it
    But if I wanted to emphasize that he never spoke to me while I was in his class then I'd need to stick with simple past, right?

    That last one is fine: the two events are both referring to something which has only just happened (speaking to you for the first time)
    If both actions have undertaken recently then I can use present perfect... So I take it that
    "I've been playing guitar for 4 hours but now I've stopped" can work the same way as "I was playing guitar for 4 hours but now I've stopped".

    (Thanks for responding back to this baffling thread that I happened to make)
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    But if I wanted to emphasize that he never spoke to me while I was in his class then I'd need to stick with simple past, right?

    If both actions have undertaken recently then I can use present perfect... So I take it that
    "I've been playing guitar for 4 hours but now I've stopped" can work the same way as "I was playing guitar for 4 hours but now I've stopped".

    (Thanks for responding back to this baffling thread that I happened to make)
    Yes and yes. :)

    In the second one, the perfect continuous sounds more natural to me than the past continuous, but in the sentence as it stands you could use either.
     
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