she had come across

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Senior Member
Slovenia, Slovene
"Within a few days of her arrival, she had come across the house of her dreams"

Why the need to use past perfect in the second part of the sentence? I do understand when and why the tense is used it's just that I have problems in this particular case.
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    You might use "she came across the house of her dreams." It would be a question of what tense is employed in the surrounding text. You don't "need" to use it, but I can tell you that it sounds natural to me.


    Senior Member
    I'm guessing it's there to stress the fact that in only a matter of days, she had already come across the ideal home.


    Hungary, English
    Past perfect is used to talk about one action that has happened before another and both actions are in the past. They are finished actions but have an effect on now.


    "Within a few days of her arrival,... this is x1, the first event, her arrival in the past.

    .....she had come across the house of her dreams" this is x2 the second event.

    Many students have problems with the perfect tenses as many languages do not have the concept of time as a past event affecting present actions, Hungarian is an example.

    I know you said you understand the tense and I apologise if you take this the wrong way. Perhaps the confusion is with the phrase "Within a few days of her arrival" as it contains no obvious 'past' form. The use of past perfect clearly indicates a past action to a native speaker but the phrase could easily be used to indicate a future action as well.

    "Within a few days of her arrival she will want to visit her Aunt", for example.

    My only real advice with this tense is to concentrate more on the feeling of the sentence and less worry less about the grammar. At this level of English you should have or be developing a feeling for whether a sentence is correct. Try saying it outloud. Very often your first instinct will be the right one. And don't forget to take as many chances as you can to speak English even if the other person may not be as good as you.

    Good luck


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    It is also possible that the pluperfect is used to place the action in the past in respect to what will follow. For instance:

    .. she had come across the house of her dreams. She immediately moved in and began her new life.
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