I thought I heard a body fall over

Sasha Ivanov

Senior Member
I was watching a Twitch stream and the streamer saw a guy, then the guy ran away, then the streamer found a dead body, that looked like the guy. And the streamer wasn't sure whether the body belonged to that guy. So, he is thinking aloud:
I thought I heard a body fall over...
I listened to that many times but there's not a hint of "I'd heard". Is that absolutely normal and the only correct way to say that? Or is that a little bit substandard, informal?
If he were transcribing his own speech, would he type "I'd heard"?
Is he aware of it and only completely omitting, swallowing the "I'd" because that's how a native speaker pronounces it in an informal setting, on a day to day basis?
Because I clearly remember reading the rule about "think" and other similar verbs that they use the Past Perfect after them, because him hearing precedes him thinking. Or are these two different structures, each correct depending on what the speaker is trying to express?
  • Sasha Ivanov

    Senior Member
    I understand this nuance but when I heard him say that, in that situation it sounded like Past Perfect should have been used.
    Because he was looking for the guy, thinking aloud and "listing" the sequence of events.
    I saw him, he ran away, I went looking for him, heard a body fall over, found a dead body.
    So, when he was saying that, I think he meant:
    Is that him? It looks like a dead him! Okay, first, I thought I heard a body fall over, then I find a body...
    Because the structure "I thought I heard", (as I was taught about the difference between the "I thought I heard" and "I thought I'd heard") sounds like it was prolonged, like maybe the body was falling over, over and over again. Like, same as in "I thought I was hearing".
    While "I thought I'd heard" expresses only one option that the sound was a one time thing, like "bang", it happened, and that was it.

    Sasha Ivanov

    Senior Member
    Like, in that specific situation if he were expressing that using the Simple Present he would have unquestionably said:
    ..., I think I heard a body fall over... and then I find a dead body... and then...


    Senior Member
    English - England
    simple past or pluperfect
    There are no rules here.

    In general terms, the pluperfect is used for background and context and refers to actions that have completed in the past. The pluperfect is commonest in narration and especially written narration.

    The pattern is usually

    Pluperfect sentence/clause to provide context and/or background + simple past clause to introduce the main theme:

    I had seen the man a few days ago. This gives context I saw him again this morning and noticed that he had a slight limp. This change of tense introduces the main theme.

    However, if I were talking to you about this, I would be likely to say

    I saw this bloke a few days ago. I saw him again this morning and noticed that he had a slight limp.
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    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think "I'd" would be wrong there.

    It is one moment in time that happened in the past.

    At that single moment, in real time, the present tense question form of hear would be "Did I just hear a body fall over?" Of course, "did" is past tense but hear is present tense.

    Now translate that moment to the past. "I thought I heard a body fall over." That's the one thing that happened at that moment. There are no other actions or times involved. Past perfect is used to relate two different things. There aren't two different things.

    It's really a form of narration. You are telling a story relating two events.

    I had seen 1) the man a few days ago and 2) this morning I saw him again.

    Those are the two events. 1 happened before 2.

    In your example he's talking to himself, simply stating a fact - not relating a story. There's no timeline. Just a single moment.

    Two moments:

    I thought I heard a body fall over, but when I went to check 2) it turned out to be a heavy garbage bag that 1) had tipped over.

    1 happened before 2.
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