The meeting <had already been> <was already> over by five o'clock.

Inversuz

Senior Member
russian
Would you please explain to me the difference between the following sentences:

"The meeting had (already) been over by five o'clock"
"The meeting was (already) over by five o'clock"
 
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  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The meeting had already finished by five o’clock :tick:
    "The meeting had already been over by five o'clock" :cross:
    "The meeting was already over by five o'clock" :tick:
     

    Inversuz

    Senior Member
    russian
    I have found next sentences:

    It had been over a decade since the General Assembly had acknowledged that the United Nations was no longer a competitive employer.
    The game should have been over at half-time.
    All of this could have been over today.

    I just wanted to clarify why the sentence "The meeting had already been over by five o'clock" is not correct in this case? Is it just unidiomatic ?
     
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    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I just wanted to clarify why the sentence "The meeting had already been over by five o'clock" is not correct in this case? Is it just unidiomatic ?
    In what case? What is your reason for using the past perfect?

    You can’t be using it to backshift from the present perfect, because your sentence would make no sense in the present perfect.

    So you must be using it to backshift from the simple past – but there is no simple past in that sentence for it to backshift from. In other words, it’s a relative statement with the other half of it (what it’s relative to) missing.

    A perfect tense always describes a state or action in the period leading up to the moment of speaking, or up to some other specific time or event.

    The meeting is over = it has come to an end (time reference: now).​
    The meeting was over = it had come to an end (time reference: then).​
    The meeting had been over (time reference: :confused:)​
    The meeting had been over for at least ten minutes by the time I arrived at the office. :tick:
    = The meeting had come to an end at least ten minutes before I got there.​
    Note, too, that in your example “It had been over a decade”, over is a preposition, meaning more than, which has nothing to do with the use of the word to mean finished/at an end.
     

    Inversuz

    Senior Member
    russian
    Thanks for the detailed explanation. I have read it for several times and I have thought about it. But I still don't get it.

    There we have correct sentence, right ?:
    "The meeting had already finished by five o’clock"

    We can say: "The meeting was over", so I suppose "be over" is equal (not equal ?) to "finish".

    So I can't understand why we can't just replace "finished" with "been over" in the sentence "The meeting had already finished by five o’clock" ?
     
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