That was before I’d stared

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DeeDol

Senior Member
Slovak
Hi, this is from the Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

Simon: “Didn’t you say I should do more research before barreling forward into danger?”
Baz: "That was before I’d stared at this damnable rabbit for half the night."

I would like to know why past perfect is used in this case. Specifically, I don't understand why is it used for an action which happened AFTER he said it, not BEFORE. Is it because of the phrase "that was before"? Is it some kind of a fixed phrase after which past perfect should be used? (such as "this is the first time" + present perfect?)
 
  • Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    I see no one has responded to this yet, so I'll take a stab.

    Grammatically, I see why you are asking the question. I can't think of any grammatical justification. However, I must admit I would say this sometimes, though I might also say that was before I stared at this rabbit for half the night. In writing, I would be more likely to avoid using the past perfect in this way:

    He was really insecure in his teens. But that was before he had graduated first in his class. (I might say this orally.)
    He was really insecure in his teens. But that was before he graduated first in his class. (This is what I would write.)

    Maybe the reason it pops out sometimes in speech is that it's the flip side of I hadn't done xxx yet at the time. For example, you might say, well, at the time I said that, I hadn't stared at the rabbit all night.


     

    DeeDol

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    Thank you, Embonpoint. "At the time I said that, I hadn't..." seems logical and gramatically correct to me too.
     
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