I <never knew><had never known> that he had such thoughts

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JJXR

Senior Member
Russian
Hello to all,

Thanks for reading my post.


Source:


Galliano's Departure From Dior Ends a Wild Fashion Ride (Published 2011)

Context:

Dior said in a statement Tuesday that it was beginning legal action to dismiss Mr. Galliano, the 50-year-old designer, whose romantic and theatrical fashion shows revitalized haute couture, following accusations of drunken anti-Semitic rants in Paris.

Sample sentence:

Most other designers, preparing their collections for Paris Fashion Week, and stunned by Mr. Galliano’s swift fall from grace, asked not to be quoted on the record. But Victoire de Castellane, Dior’s jewelry designer, summed up the general feeling when she said: “It’s terrible and pathetic at the same time. I <never knew><had never known> that he had such thoughts in him. Or that he so needed help.”

Question:

The simple past "never knew" is used in the original. Is the past perfect "had never known" also correct and natural here?


Thanks a lot for any comments, corrections or suggestions!

Regards,
JJXR
 
  • JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks for the response, Jennifer Weiss.

    The following sentence, which is similar in structure, is from my earlier thread:
    2. Thank you, thank you and welcome to this little party. I'd never guessed I had so many really nice friends, who, I hope, will drink with me on this special occasion.
    Here's what an American English speaker says:
    Sentence 2 is natural. I'd probably say that rather than the original.
     
    Even though the past perfect doesn’t work for me in your sentence, I’d still love to hear other opinions. I’m surprised, as you say, someone said the other sentence worked. In that situation, I’d say “I’d never have guessed” which is certainly correct.

    Regards.
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks for the response, Jennifer Weiss.

    Could a native English speaker please comment on this? Thanks in advance.
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks for your responses, se16teddy and Enquiring Mind.

    How about the example in post #3? Does the past perfect "had never guessed" work there for you? Thanks in advance.
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    "I'd never guessed I had so many really nice friends" is acceptable, but it's not the most natural (to me) in the apparent context. I would have said (as JW said in #4) "I would never have guessed".

    "Guess" ("conjecture") can have a dynamic meaning, so you can guess the answer to something before you know it, and therefore you can "have guessed" something before the action that follows, and the "guessing" can therefore be a completed action in the past, as in:
    (a) "I (had) guessed he would be home early, so I had supper ready when he arrived." The "guess" is a completed action in the past, prior to "had supper ready". "Guess", of course, can also mean "think", "believe", but that's not the sense in my sentence (a) here. So with "guess" the speaker will already have a sense of whether (s)he means (1) "conjecture" or (2) "believe", and will automatically know whether (s)he can use the past perfect to describe the action of "guessing" as a completed action. Is it a (one-off, completed) "conjecture" or is it a (continuing) "belief"?

    "Know" (a person) can also have the sense of being completed in the past, because you can "have known" someone who subsequently moved away and the acquaintance ended, and therefore you can say that "knowing that person" has ended. The "knowing" in that sense was a time-limited action.

    But that's not the sense of "know" (a fact) in post 1. If, at some point in the past, de Castellane knew that Galliano had such thoughts in him, that knowledge, or that "knowing" doesn't end. Once you know a fact, that knowledge stays with you, you can't "unknow it" (although, of course, you can forget it). So de Castellane didn't "complete a knowing process" prior to Galliano voicing those thoughts. Either she knew it or she didn't. That's why "I had never known" doesn't work in that context.
     
    Last edited:

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks for the explanation, Enquiring Mind.

    Thank you, thank you and welcome to this little party. I'd never thought I had so many really nice friends, who, I hope, will drink with me on this special occasion.

    In the above sentence as it stands, should it be the simple past "I never thought" or the past perfect "I'd never thought"? Or are they both correct in this case? Thanks in advance.
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    I think they're both ok here, but I don't see any reason to complicate the utterance by using the past perfect.
    If I never thought I had so many nice friends, that means "at no point in the past did I ever think ...", and "no point in the past" clearly covers any time before the party.
     
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