I HAD heard that before

Delphius

Member
French
Hello, everyone!

I have asked a similar question before, but I think I need to reformulate the question and tackle it in a different way.

Pierre: Bill Gates is the richest man in the world.
Delphius:
i) Yes, I had heard that before.
ii) Yes, I have heard that before.

Which one is correct? Both? A matter of style? To me, it should be "I had heard" because Pierre has just told me, so we have two different points in the past, and the past perfect should be used. If I reply, "I haven't heard that before", Pierre's instinctive reaction should be, "What do you mean? I've just told you". For those who insist on using the present perfect, is it because Pierre's telling me of this fact is considered as "now", because the dialogue is ongoing, and not a thing of the past?

There has to be a clear-cut rule. Could someone enlighten me here?
 
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  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Pierre: Bill Gates is the richest man in the world.
    Delphius:
    i) Yes, I had heard that before.
    ii) Yes, I have heard that before.

    Which one is correct? Both?
    Yes, both.
    There has to be clear-cut rule.
    You naïve optimism is touching. :D

    See my signature: there are no rules, just guidance. We observe what has happened in the past and then explain why it was done that way, at that time, and in those circumstances. Past performance does not influence future behaviour.
     

    Delphius

    Member
    French
    PaulQ,

    I rather like your answer, i.e. having the option of using either one. When I was growing up, admission of a lack of clear-cut rules got people in trouble with the disciplinarians.

    Thank you!
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Pierre: Bill Gates is the richest man in the world.
    Delphius:
    i) Yes, I had heard that before.
    ii) Yes, I have heard that before.
    I rather like ... having the option of using either one.
    The past perfect would not be appropriate here, in an affirmative answer, unless a previous point of time, prior to Pierre's statement, had already been established in the context, or was understood between the parties.

    The following kind of interchange sometimes takes place:

    A: I work for Tomkins Widget Company. Have you heard of them?
    B: Yes, I have.

    In this case, B, out of politeness, or not wanting to seem ignorant, says 'Yes, I have' relying on the fact that A has just mentioned that company.
    If B were more honest, the answer would be 'No, I hadn't actually' (meaning I had not heard of them until you mentioned them).
    There has to be a clear-cut rule.
    Please rest assured that there are rules (without rules, there would be no language), though they are not always clear-cut.
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Which one is correct? Both? A matter of style?
    I agree with Wandle here. Without further context, "had" would be strange. One would wonder, "before what?"

    With "have" the implication of "before" is clear. It refers to one or several points in time prior to the moment Pierre said it.
    To me, it should be "I had heard" because Pierre has just told me, so we have two different points in the past, and the past perfect should be used.
    I can see where you're coming from, but for some reason that rule isn't applicable in this case.

    It may be to do with the fact that "the new information" isn't new at all and therefore doesn't alter Delphius's present understanding of the matter. It is exactly the same before Pierre has made his remark as it is after.
     
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