Ms. Lo joined/had joined the once-a-week course [past perfect]

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meex2

Member
Cantonese
Hi,

Which one is correct?

Ms. Lo joined the once-a-week course from July 2009 to Dec 2009.

or

Ms. Lo had joined the once-a-week course from July 2009 to Dec 2009.
 
  • Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Greetings!

    Purely in a grammatical sense, both are correct.

    But the pluperfect "...had joined..." implies and demands a correlation with another past event or circumstance:

    "She had [already] joined...before she became pregnant".

    But there is something aspectually unsatisfactory about "join" a course "from July...to Dec.", for "joining" is in this context an event:

    "She joined the course in July, and continued to participate (/attend) until December."
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    I am sorry if I was insufficiently clear.

    Yes, I am saying that "joined" here is semantically wrong. "She joined the course between July and December" would mean "She embarked on/started (attending) the course at some (unknown) date between July and December).

    "She attended the course from July to December" makes perfect sense, however.

    The tutor/lecturer could write

    "She studied with me/us from...".

    I should have added that "once-a-week", though grammatical, is clumsy. "She attended our weekly classes..." would be more elegant.
     

    meex2

    Member
    Cantonese
    What I want to make sure is whether I should use past tense or past perfect tense. I am so confuse. Let's say I use "followed" or attended" in that sentence, that would be past tense.
     

    meex2

    Member
    Cantonese
    Just want to make thing clear, can I write:

    She had attended the course from July to December.

    Is this purely grammatically correct?

    Please help.
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Grammatically this is fine - but, as I wrote in my previous post, it must be past in the past:

    "By the time he was eight years old, he had [already] learned Latin and Greek".

    "He had left the house before his wife realised that he had gone".

    "Before he faced Spassky for the World Chess Championship, Fischer had already defeated every other Russian Master".
     

    Aidanriley

    Senior Member
    English
    Grammatically this is fine - but, as I wrote in my previous post, it must be past in the past:

    "By the time he was eight years old, he had [already] learned Latin and Greek".

    "He had left the house before his wife realised that he had gone".

    "Before he faced Spassky for the World Chess Championship, Fischer had already defeated every other Russian Master".
    Hi Scholiast :). What do you mean by past in the past? The past perfect?
     

    meex2

    Member
    Cantonese
    SO you mean it is not grammatically correct if I say:

    "She attended the course from July to December."?

    Because if you say Past Perfect Tense is for the past in the past, the above sentence is only a past. So, why should I use had attended instead of attended?

    God, this is killing me :( I understand the example you gave me above but when it comes to the original sentence I wrote, I get confused.
     

    Aidanriley

    Senior Member
    English
    SO you mean it is not grammatically correct if I say:

    "She attended the course from July to December."? :tick:

    Because if you say Past Perfect Tense is for the past in the past, the above sentence is only a past. So, why should I use had attended instead of attended?

    God, this is killing me :( I understand the example you gave me above but when it comes to the original sentence I wrote, I get confused.
    That sentence is correct. I wouldn't use the past perfect there. (Hang in there! Don't get too frustrated:))
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Greetings, especially here to Aidanriley (#9 in this Thread)

    Under the foolish impression that I had already explained the pluperfect tense, I received your further enquiry.

    This is to me a pluperfect, not a "past perfect".

    Maybe here it's an issue of US/British usage in purely grammatical terminology.:)
     

    Aidanriley

    Senior Member
    English
    Greetings, especially here to Aidanriley (#9 in this Thread)

    Under the foolish impression that I had already explained the pluperfect tense, I received your further enquiry.

    This is to me a pluperfect, not a "past perfect".

    Maybe here it's an issue of US/British usage in purely grammatical terminology.:)
    So past in the past is synonymous with pluperfect, then? Thanks for the explanation :).

    That means

    "She JOINED the course from July to December" is correct too?
    It isn't incorrect to say that, but I recommend you pick another verb. The problem lies in the verb to join rather than in the tense. That verb seems to refer to the first day she started to attend, or the day she registered for the course. While to join and to attend can overlap in meaning in some contexts, here to join is not a good choice in my opinion because, in the context of classes, I have the preconception that to join a class means to register for a class.
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Sorry, meex2, but that was precisely the point I was trying to make.

    She joined the course in July, and continued to attend the classes until December.

    Her "joining" is a specific point in time. Her "attendance" is something that lasts over an appreciable period of time.
     

    gandolfo

    Senior Member
    English-British
    This is to me a pluperfect, not a "past perfect".

    They are the same thing aren't they just different names? I always use the term past perfect and I'm a Brit:)

    "She JOINED the course from July to December" is correct too?
    Sort of:) it is if you use attended rather than joined as it implies time passing.


    Meex maybe this will help and this

    The past perfect tense is often used in English when we are relating two events which happened in the past. It helps to show which event happened first.

    She had eaten pizza before she left

    action1 =she had eaten pizza action 2=she left

    They are both in the past but one action happen before the other.
     
    Last edited:

    meex2

    Member
    Cantonese
    I know exactly what it means. The problem is I have to explain to the kids which sentence is correct despite the verb:

    She JOINED the course from July to December.

    or

    She HAD JOINED the course from July to December.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I know exactly what it means. The problem is I have to explain to the kids which sentence is correct despite the verb:

    She JOINED the course from July to December.

    or

    She HAD JOINED the course from July to December.
    Meex, can you tell us more about the context - in other words, can you tell us what the teaching point is here? In most contexts, the simple past will be preferable; in some, the past perfect will be more appropriate:).
     

    meex2

    Member
    Cantonese
    Ms. Lo joined the once-a-week course from July 2009 to Dec 2009.

    The above sentence appeared in a letter and the kids started to ask about what we should use (joined/had joined). Some teachers say "joined" and the others say "had joined". But because we do not have a past events in the above sentence, the kids are getting confused (some teachers insist to use "had joined").
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    In the absence of further context, no-one can be sure they are right, so the discussion of including had or not cannot come to a satisfactory conclusion. Depending on the rest of the letter and its narrative tense, it might go either way!
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The distinction could be
    “Ms. Lo joined the once-a-week course from July 2009 to Dec 2009 and she found that she was ill.” Use of joined sets the scene in respect to the place/situation

    or

    “Ms. Lo had joined the once-a-week course from July 2009 to Dec 2009 when she found she was ill.” Use of had joined sets the scene in respect to time.
     
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