Motorcade passed over or motorcade had passed over

Oros

Senior Member
Korean
He survived the first attack on 14 December thanks, apparently, to electronic jamming devices which blocked a signal to a remote-controlled bomb.

The blast destroyed a bridge minutes after his motorcade had passed over it. No-one was hurt.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4187254.stm
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

The last sentence is not a sentence of an indirect sentence. Why is it necessary to stick to the past perfect in the context?

I think the simple past would be fine.
The blast destroyed a bridge minutes after his motorcade passed over it. No-one was hurt.

What do you think?


In the above, you will read the following sentence too.
A military court had found Siddiqui guilty of conspiring to kill the Pakistani leader.

I think the following is fine here too.
A military court found Siddiqui guilty of conspiring to kill the Pakistani leader.
 
  • modgirl

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Oros said:
    The blast destroyed a bridge minutes after his motorcade had passed over it. No-one was hurt.

    Two events occured in the past. 1) The blast destroyed a bridge. 2) The motorcade passed over the bridge.

    To show that 2) occurred before 1) the past perfect tense is used.


    Another example. I had already made my holiday plans and when I learned the news of the airline strike.

    Although both actions are in the past, "making the holiday plans" happened further in the past (before learning news of the airlines strike).
     

    Oros

    Senior Member
    Korean
    modgirl
    I would agree with you. Thanks for the reply.

    The following part of my question went unanswered. I urge someone to look at it.

    In the above, you will read the following sentence too.
    A military court had found Siddiqui guilty of conspiring to kill the Pakistani leader.

    I think the following is fine here too.
    A military court found Siddiqui guilty of conspiring to kill the Pakistani leader.
     

    panjandrum

    Senior Member
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Using the same model as modgirl used for the first part (I think:) ):
    Two things happened in the past:

    (1) Last week, a former soldier who was found guilty of conspiracy to assassinate Gen Musharraf was executed in Multan.

    (2) A military court found Siddiqui guilty of conspiring to kill the Pakistani leader.

    When these two events are reported together, to show that (2) occurred before (1) the past perfect tense is used.

    Last week, a former soldier who was found guilty of conspiracy to assassinate Gen Musharraf was executed in Multan.
    A military court had found Siddiqui guilty of conspiring to kill the Pakistani leader.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I'm picking up something else here, not a disagreement with the consensus that the past perfect "had passed" is needed-- just a different reason why.

    You ask if "the blast destroyed a bridge minutes after his motorcade passed over it" is correct, or "would be fine," as you put it.

    What you were told is true, it would be better to use the past perfect. But in answer to your direct question, "after his motorcade passed over it" is perfectly good usage. It's part of the simplification in tense structures that's evolving in modern English, and it is not grammatically incorrect.

    But it "sounded wrong" compared to the past perfect. To my ear, this is true, and I'll tell you why. In the first structure, you can reverse the order of the events, using (or implying) then instead of after: "motorcade passed" --> then "blast destroyed."

    When both events are in the same simple past tense, the line is blurred between subsequence and consequence-- "after" and "because of." You can see it more clearly in the then example than the after. In the first sentence, one thing simply happens after another, and the human mind is free to play its usual trick, and a causality is implied, ever so subtly. It doesn't make sense that the motorcade's passing caused the blast, but the idea is there in the tense structure.

    This problem is solved if "distance" is created between the events that would obviate one thing causing the subsequent thing. The past perfect creates a context that "closes" the first event to show that it was completed before the second event happened.

    It's not that the use of simple past in both clauses doesn't include this possibility, it just fails to spell it out. You can see the absence of ambiguity in the fact that you can't turn the past/past-perfect clauses around to form a coherent then construction out of the after. "motorcade had passed" --> then "blast destroyed" is awkward because then's confusing secondary meaning "and therefore" contradicts the "by the time that" inherent when you try to reverse past/past-perfect word order.

    Short answer, two simple past-tense clauses in a row are correct, but they reduce the time frame to a this-then-this structure, and that opens you up to the fallacy of consequence. The past/past-perfect structure defines a this-then-that logic, where the separateness (mere subsequence) of the events is clarified.

    That was the short answer?
     

    toscairn

    Banned
    Japan
    Hi, I'm learning right now about the "tense simplification" and have just found your wonderfully written explanation. Great work!
     
    Top