Inversion with past perfect?

< Previous | Next >

shop-englishx

Banned
Urdu
Hi, my friends,

I know that the past perfect is used for the action that is completed before the other action in the past, so according to this rule, the following sentence is the correct one:

After the guest had left, we cleaned our home. :tick: (The leaving of the guest happened earlier than cleaning.)

But, one of my friends told me that the following sentence is also possible:
After the guest left, we had cleaned our home. :confused::confused:

I am confused as to why 'past perfect' can be used with 'cleaning of the home' (a later action.)

Could anybody explain this to me, please?

Thanks a lot. :)
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    It's barely grammatical and certainly counter-intuitive. It could only occur if there's a third event (unspecified) which came after both the leaving and the cleaning, such as: After the guest left, we had cleaned our home by the time Christmas came.

    But even then, two people out of three would think it was a mistake. Don't do it.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I completely agree with Keith. It doesn't make intuitive sense in the second example. It might be possible in certain contexts but it would simply sound wrong as a sentence standing on its own.
     
    After the guest left, we had cleaned our home.

    As Keith said, another action, after, is required. But his example ("by the time Christmas came") does not work well.


    Here is a better proposal in my opinion. "Let me tell you how it happened that our home was burglarized. We had been fixing
    the place up, and often sleeping elsewhere. Then a guest turned up and left the place a mess. So after the guest left,
    we had cleaned our home and were taking a break at a nearby hotel. Then that fellow broke into it, utterly shocking us."
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hi, my friends,

    I know that the past perfect is used for the action that is completed before the other action in the past, so according to this rule, the following sentence is the correct one:

    After the guest had left, we cleaned our home. :tick: (The leaving of the guest happened earlier than cleaning.)

    But, one of my friends told me that the following sentence is also possible:
    After the guest left, we had cleaned our home. :confused::confused:

    I am confused as to why 'past perfect' can be used with 'cleaning of the home' (a later action.)

    Could anybody explain this to me, please?

    Thanks a lot. :)
    Sometimes we need to order three events which occurred at different times in the past. Let's call them 1, 2, and 3. Let's suppose that 1. happened first and 3. last.

    What tenses do we use to describe them?

    Let's be precise about what the events are: 1. the guest left, 2. we cleaned our home, 3. we went to bed.

    If we just wish to describe 1. and 2., we have choices:

    After the guest left, we cleaned our home.
    After the guest had left, we cleaned our home.


    There are plenty of other ways of saying that, of course.


    How do we describe all three events? Again we have choices:

    A. After the guest left, we cleaned our home, and went to bed - would be quite normal.

    B. After the guest had left, and we had cleaned our home, we went to bed -
    I find the double had's here rather fussy, but the sentence is entirely correct.

    C. After the guest left, and we had cleaned our home, we went to bed - I prefer this version.

    A succession of past perfects can become stylistically oppressive.

    I don't know if the majority view in this thread has been to condemn sentences like C. If it is, I wonder how people would treat sentences describing four or more events occurring at different times.

    I'm not clear what this thread has to do with inversion.
     
    Last edited:

    shop-englishx

    Banned
    Urdu
    Hello, TT.

    There are some confusions which I have in mind.

    1)

    C. After the guest left, and we had cleaned our home, we went to bed - I prefer this version.
    Why don't you prefer this -> After the guest had left, and we cleaned our home, we went to bed.? because I have been taught that 'past perfect' is ONLY used for the earlier of the two or more events.

    2)

    After the guest (had) left, we cleaned our home.

    According to the rule, there should be 'had' in first part of this sentence, why didn't you put that? (I have marked in BLUE)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Why don't you prefer this -> After the guest had left, and we cleaned our home, we went to bed.? because I have been taught that 'past perfect' is ONLY used for the earlier of the two or more events.
    If there are two, I agree with you. I couldn't use the past perfect for the second.

    As I've said, with three, I don't.

    I think it's not true that had is only used with the earliest of the three, though it should not be used with the last. It could be used in the first two.

    According to the rule, there should be 'had' in first part of this sentence, why didn't you put that? (I have marked in BLUE)
    I didn't put it because it would seem natural to me not to do so in some circumstances. I'm quite happy with the sentence when the first verb is in the past perfect, but I think the idea that it has to be in the past perfect on such occasions absurd.

    I'm sorry if you've been presented with any such rule.

    In American English the past perfect is becoming less used than formerly. You'll often hear Americans using the simple past for the first of two actions like this.
     
    Last edited:

    shop-englishx

    Banned
    Urdu
    As I've said, with three, I don't.

    I think it's not true that had is only used with the earliest of the three, though it should not be used with the last. It could be used in the first two.
    Hello, TT.
    I'm quite disappointed that I was mistaken about the use of past perfect. As you have said that past perfect can be used with earliest OR the second action but cannot be used with the last one (e.g; when there are three actions). Could you tell me a valid reason as to why we should use past perfect with earliest action or the second action? Why not simply use it with the earliest only? :confused::confused:

    I didn't put it because it would seem natural to me not to do so in some circumstances. I'm quite happy with the sentence when the first verb is in the past perfect, but I think the idea that it has to be in the past perfect on such occasions absurd.
    Again, I am confused about this statement of yours, Why do you consider it natural not to use the past perfect for the first verb in this sentence (-> After the guest left, we cleaned our home.), and why do you consider the use of past perfect for the first verb absurd here?

    Please enlighten me on this,

    Thank you!
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Again, I am confused about this statement of yours, Why do you consider it natural not to use the past perfect for the first verb in this sentence (-> After the guest left, we cleaned our home.), and why do you consider the use of past perfect for the first verb absurd here?
    It's the idea that it has to be in the past perfect which I think absurd. Of course, it can be, and often is.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top