present perfect + past simple

SReynolds

Senior Member
Hungarian
Hello,

I am wondering about whether the following sentence is idiomatic:

There was no reception on the train so I flipped through a couple of albums I haven't listened to before.

Imagine you got off the train and this is what you tell someone. Is this usage of present perfect correct? I would assume it is since both actions are fairly recent. However, I can't help but feel that maybe the past perfect would be more appropriate here.

What do you think?
 
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Yes, in fact I'd mentally changed that sentence to read: "There was no reception on the train so I flipped through a couple of albums I hadn't listened to before." before I'd read the question!

    The time sequence is this - you found there was no reception, flipped through the albums, got off the train and told someone about it. Listening (or not listening) to the albums on a previous occasion pre-dates the entire sequence of events and so logically you use the pluperfect, because it's further back in the past.


     

    SReynolds

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Thanks for the answers, it seems that my original thoughts were at least partly correct.
     
    Last edited:

    Verliss

    Member
    English - Australian
    Hello,

    I am wondering about whether the following sentence is idiomatic:

    There was no reception on the train so I flipped through a couple of albums I haven't listened to before.

    Imagine you got off the train and this is what you tell someone. Is this usage of present perfect correct? I would assume it is since both actions are fairly recent. However, I can't help but feel that maybe the past perfect would be more appropriate here.

    What do you think?
    You're correct, but I have no doubt that in real life numerous people - probably the majority - would use this 'incorrect' construction. Although I myself would probably say "so I flipped through a couple of albums I hadn't listened to yet," (if I owned them), I'd probably say "haven't listened to before" or "I've never listened to before" before I would say "hadn't listened to before." "Hadn't listened to before" sounds just ever so slightly affected to my ears. (No offence to anyone, I mean that in the most neutral sense.)
     

    SReynolds

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Thanks for your answer. As with every language, spoken varieties are often more lenient about grammar, so comments like yours really help to paint the whole picture.
     
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