I had done my homework by six When I was a child.

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shorty1

Senior Member
Korean
Hello. :)

#1. I had done my homework by six When I was a child.
#2. I did my homework by six when I was a child.

Both are the same in meaning and sound natural to you?
 
  • shorty1

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Hi shorty1,

    Can you tell us what you think of the two sentences?

    Hello cycloneviv. :)

    I hesitated to use #1 because it took the form of pluperfect.
    But I think "had done" in #1 is not used to indicate pluperfect but just a completed action of the past.
    So I was wondering how #1 sounds to native speakers.
     
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    cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    You were right to think it odd. It doesn't work.

    Sentence 2 is fine. :)

    We're not really talking about a completed (single) action here, but of a habit. We either need to use sentence 2 or say "I would/used to do my homework by 6 when I was a child".
     

    shorty1

    Senior Member
    Korean
    You were right to think it odd. It doesn't work.

    Sentence 2 is fine. :)

    We're not really talking about a completed (single) action here, but of a habit. We either need to use sentence 2 or say "I would/used to do my homework by 6 when I was a child".


    "I had usually done my homework by six When I was a child."

    Does the above sentence make sense?
     

    cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    I... don't think so. It doesn't seem quite right. I wish I could tell you why, but I'm not very good with grammar rules and all that jazz.

    A more natural sentence would be: I usually did my homework by six when I was a child. (Note: you don't want a capital "W" on "when". It is not the start of a new sentence.)
     

    shorty1

    Senior Member
    Korean
    I... don't think so. It doesn't seem quite right. I wish I could tell you why, but I'm not very good with grammar rules and all that jazz.

    A more natural sentence would be: I usually did my homework by six when I was a child. (Note: you don't want a capital "W" on "when". It is not the start of a new sentence.)

    I get it.

    Thank you, cycloneviv. :thumbsup:
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The right tense cannot be decided out of context. Choice of tense depends on two factors: (a) the objective time situation, that is, the external sequence of events; (b) the subjective intention in the mind of the speaker or writer.

    If at 9:00 pm the father says to the child 'It's bedtime!' and the child says, 'I haven't finished my homework', the father could well say, 'It's nine o'clock! I had done my homework by six when I was a child.'

    In this case, the father is thinking of a single time frame for the evening and is applying that both to his own past childhood and to the child's situation in the present. Thus he thinks, 'I had done my homework long before this time'. He sees a gap in time between the finishing of the homework and the advent of bedtime: and this gap is expressed by saying 'had done'.

    Personally, I would change the word order: 'I had my homework done by six..'
     

    cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    Hi wandle,

    I have to say, even with your extended dialogue, "I had done my homework by six when I was a child" sounds absolutely bizarre to me! "I had my homework done by six when I was a child", but that seems rather different. The first is the a specific conjugation of the word "done" ("had done") which I don't find appropriate, while the other is "had (something) done", which strikes me as requiring different treatment. :confused:
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Well, suppose we extend it and bring out the further thought that could be in the father's mind.

    'I had done my homework by six when I was a child. Then I often went round to my friend's house and we played there or here till bedtime.'

    This makes clear the implied time sequence: (1) homework (2) play (3) bed. With this time frame in mind, the father sees the homework as something that had been done before the play began let alone bedtime.
    The pluperfect tense 'had done' emphasises the gap, by making you think: 'What happened in between?'
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    Personally, I would change the word order: 'I had my homework done by six..'
    I agree. And if one wanted to emphasize the habitual nature of this,

    [As a child/when I was a child/at your age] I would always finish my homework by 6 o’clock.
     

    cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    It's still not working for me, sorry! I can't, logically, get over the fact that "had done" just can't be used with "when I was a child", to my mind. Even bringing in a consequent action, which habitually took place after the homework had habitually been done, doesn't help. I would still without fail use another form in this context. "I had my homework done by six", "I would do my homework by six", "I did my homework by six"... all fine.

    I think we'll just have to agree to disagree. :)
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    "I had usually done my homework by six When I was a child."

    Does the above sentence make sense?
    That does not work for me either. This is OK:

    I had usually finished my homework by six when I was a child.

     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I agree. And if one wanted to emphasize the habitual nature of this,
    [As a child/when I was a child/at your age] I would always finish my homework by 6 o’clock.
    I missed this post when I wrote. But "finished" works here for me too.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Bearing in mind that the father is applying one time frame for the evening both to his childhood and to the present day, it seems to me a classic case for the use of the pluperfect to express (by implication) an intervening time: that is, two stages of past time, (1) homework and (2) play, before the present, (3) bedtime.
     

    shorty1

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you again, wandle, bicontinental, cycloneviv and Packard. :)

    I've learned many things from you, folks. :thumbsup:
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    Bearing in mind that the father is applying one time frame for the evening both to his childhood and to the present day, it seems to me a classic case for the use of the pluperfect to express (by implication) an intervening time: that is, two stages of past time, (1) homework and (2) play, before the present, (3) bedtime.

    Again, I’m not disagreeing with this but there’s clearly an element of habit expressed in the sentence above which makes me prefer a construction with ‘would’. The habitual action described in this way may be concurrent with or prior to a past-tense narrative, but this temporal ambiguity is clarified by adding “when I was a child” and “then I often went out”. Therefore, both of these would work in my opinion (with a slight personal preference for the latter),:)



    'I had done my homework by six when I was a child. Then I often went round to my friend's house and we played there or here till bedtime.' (wandle, post #10)


    'I would [usually] finish my homework by six, when I was a child. [Then I often went round to my friend's house and we played there or here till bedtime.]' (bicontinental, post # 11)
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    there’s clearly an element of habit expressed in the sentence above
    Please bear in mind the context. The original post had no context at all.
    Post 8 and post 10 offer a very specific context in which 'had done' will fit.

    As said already, in this context, the father is thinking of one time frame for the evening, both for his child now, and his own childhood in the past: as if he, the father, were still a child with homework today.
    He is putting himself mentally into the child's situation, within this single evening time frame.

    Within this frame the time sequence is (1) homework (2) play (3) bed. As explained above, it makes good sense to say, from the perspective of stage (3), nine o'clock, 'I had done my homework by six when I was a child. Then I often went round to my friend's house and we played there or here till bedtime.' (Sequence: (1), (2), (3).)

    Let's consider a different context. The father is talking, one Saturday afternoon, to a friend about their childhood days.
    Then he could very naturally say:
    'I would finish my homework by six, when I was a child. Then I often went round to my friend's house and we played there or here till bedtime'.
     
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