The thought <had crossed> my mind

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Phoebe1200

Senior Member
Russian-Russia
NCIS, TV show
Context: Gibbs quits NCIS and moves to Mexico where he stays at Franks's house. But then he temporarily comes back to work on an old case with Franks. This is the dialogue they have before they breach the suspect's apartment.

Franks: I imagine you'd rather be enjoying a nice drink in a cantina right about now.
Gibbs: The thought had crossed my mind.
Franks: Mine, too.


Please explain why it's past perfect and not present perfect "The thought has crossed my mind"?
 
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    No. If you want to specify the time period "before X", including "before you spoke", use the past perfect not the simple past. Otherwise I think the time frame here is the entire past - so present perfect.
     
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    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The difference between present perfect and past perfect is significant.

    'Had crossed my mind' places the thought not only in the past, but earlier than another event which is also past.

    He means that before making up his mind to carry out this job, he had thought how nice it would be to relax with a drink instead.
    Then, however, he overcame that thought with the determination to fulfil his task.

    Both men are in effect saying, 'It's a tough job, but we've just got to do it'.
    By doing so, each supports the other's determination.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    He means that before making up his mind to carry out this job, he had thought how nice it would be to relax with a drink instead.
    Then, however, he overcame that thought with the determination to fulfil his task.
    I agree that some remoter event in the past than Franks's line is meant in the OP, otherwise Present Perfect would have been used, I think.
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    He means that before making up his mind to carry out this job, he had thought how nice it would be to relax with a drink instead.
    Then, however, he overcame that thought with the determination to fulfil his task.

    Both men are in effect saying, 'It's a tough job, but we've just got to do it'.
    I want to add that the "cantina" that they both have in mind (are talking about) is the one that is situated in Mexico because they usually spent time in that cantina when they were in Mexico.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I agree that some remoter event in the past than Franks's line is meant in the OP,
    'Had crossed' implies, not remoter than Franks's line, but remoter than Gibbs' own final conclusion (the determinatino to go ahead).
    The time reference of Gibbs' words is to a point in Gibbs' memory of his own decision-making process.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    'Had crossed' implies, not remoter than Franks's line, but remoter than Gibbs' own final conclusion (the determinatino to go ahead).
    The time reference of Gibbs' words is to a point in Gibbs' memory of his own decision-making process.
    Yes, that's what I meant by "remoter event in the past than Franks's line". That is, it happened earlier than Franks's line "I imagine you'd rather be enjoying a nice drink in a cantina right about now.":)
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    That is, it happened earlier than Franks's line "I imagine you'd rather be enjoying a nice drink in a cantina right about now.
    (1) It happened even earlier than that.
    (2) The time reference was not to any external event (such as a conversational remark) but to a thought or decision in Gibbs' own mind.

    After all, since Franks had only just uttered his line, any other past event would be prior to that.
    That does not give a basis for Gibbs' use of the past perfect, which must point to a stage further back in time than one already past in Gibbs' mind.
     
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    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    As is often the case the choice between the present perfect and the past perfect is the perspective of the speaker. If he uses the present perfect in this example it implies that the thought is still current : even now he is thinking about the cantina. If he uses past perfect the implication is that he thought of it previously (and personally I believe that the intended reference point is "before you mentioned it").
    Both versions are common, correct and idiomatic. The choice of tense will partly depend on habit - it is almost a set phrase and speakers are likely in my view to have a tendency to predominantly use one or the other.
     
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