I never had (I've never had ); I had (I've had)

Phoebe1200

Senior Member
Russian-Russia
Last action hero, movie
Context: The theater manager, Nick, gives Danny (a kid who he's friends with) a magic ticket that can transport you into the fictional world of cinema.

Danny: What does it do, Nick?
Nick: I never had the courage to find out. I had the ticket for years and I wanted to try, but I guess I was afraid it wouldn't work.

Could you explain why it's not "I've never had the courage..." and "I've had the ticket for years..."?
 
  • VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Just before Danny's line, Nick says:
    "It was mine, and now it's yours. And now it's yours."

    It's not his ticket anymore. The possibility to use it is gone, in the past.

    (Be careful to not pick up the accent from Arnie:D)
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Your suggested alternative (present perfect) is better grammar, if (a) he still has the ticket, or (b) he still had it until the last few minutes. If he used present perfect he would also change "was afraid" to "have been afraid".

    But he is talking about "years ago". He isn't including recent time in his statement. Perhaps this means that it has been years since the last time he thought about using it. If that is his meaning, it is reasonable to use simple past tense.

    I am not saying his grammar is more correct than your suggestion. This is just my guess as to why he says it this way. Or, to be precise, why the script-writer chose to have him say it this way.
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    Just before Danny's line, Nick says:
    "It was mine, and now it's yours. And now it's yours."
    It's not his ticket anymore. The possibility to use it is gone, in the past.
    (Be careful to not pick up the accent from Arnie:D)
    Thank you.:):D I didn't pay attention to the connection of the previous line.:) But still, he's just given him the ticket now.:)


     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    If he used present perfect he would also change "was afraid" to "have been afraid".
    Thank you.:)

    But still, can't the past simple be used even if he used the present perfect in the beginning?
    I mean, with the meaning of "Every time he wanted to use the ticket during those years at that moment he was afraid that it wouldn't work".

    I've never had the courage to find out. I've had the ticket for years and I wanted to try, but I guess I was afraid it wouldn't work.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    By the way, in the OP, it's the "future in the past" -- "I was afraid it wouldn't work.", where "would" is the past tense of "will". So if we change "was afraid" to "have been afraid", what will "would" be then?..
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Yes, he could say that also. Your black/pink/blue sentence in #5 is good.

    In English there are often several ways to say something. Sometimes one way "seems more correct", but the others are still acceptable and commonly used (and therefore "correct"). In that situation, "Why did he say DEF instead of the better sentence ABC?" may have no answer. In post #2 I made a guess about "why" ("he isn't including recent time"). But that is only a guess. To get a definite answer we would have to ask the script-writer.
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    Thanks a lot, Dojibear.:)

    Could you also tell me if this combination of tenses is correct?

    Past simple+present perfect+past simple

    I never had the courage to find out. I've had the ticket for years and I wanted to try, but I guess I was afraid it wouldn't work.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Sounds fine, in this sentence. I don't know if that combination of tenses would work in every possible sentence. But I think you understand what each verb is saying, and will choose combinations that work.
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    But it doesn't fit the context then. The ticket is not his any longer, he would not use the future tense..
    You're right. But in that context, he wouldn't use "have been afraid" either and it would remain "was afraid" so it would stay the same as in the OP "I was afraid it wouldn't work".:)

    I only said that I think it would be "won't" if we change the OP using the present perfect.:)

    I've never had the courage to find out. I've had the ticket for years and I wanted to try, but I guess I have been afraid it won't work.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    That was my whole point -- the phrase "It was mine, and now it's yours." clearly separates the past from the present, even though the [edit] present finished right now. And that's why it's better to use past tense verbs in the OP than the present perfect))
     
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    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    That was my whole point -- the phrase "It was mine, and now it's yours." clearly separates the past from the present, even though the past finished right now. And that's why it's better to use past tense verbs in the OP than the present perfect))
    And I understood your point which is valid.:)
    But Dojibear said that the present perfect could also be used in the OP.:)
    Your suggested alternative (present perfect) is better grammar if (a) he still has the ticket or (b) he still had it until the last few minutes.
    So I understood that it could be either tense in the OP.:)
     
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