there'd been a text message??!


Senior Member
Hello members!

I was reading a book and I don't understand why past perfect is used here.

(The girl is sitting in a car. She is just about to start the car when the phone vibrates, then she reads the text and texts the person back.)
The author wrote:
"My phone vibrated in my purse. I fished it out and saw there'd been a text from benny."

- Quoted from Breathless.

Why is the past perfect tense used here? I think I'd use "there was a text" instead, because the text still existed.
Is using past tense wrong/not good here? If not, why does it refer to? I don't get it.

Please explain.
Thanks so much!
  • I think the speaker made a good choice, though your alternative is not wrong.

    OP example: "I fished it out and saw there'd been a text from benny."

    The more conventional and perhaps usual order would be,

    I saw that there had been a text among my messages, when I fished out the phone.

    "Had been" places the event (the text arriving) before the 'fishing.'

    ADDED: Incidentally the rule you cite is not quite accurate, if it says: Do not use a past perfect for an act [the text arriving and being there] extending up until another past act [the fishing]. Leaving aside the issue of seeing, what I called the conventional order applies to sentences like "It had rained for three days when I noticed that the roof was unstable." In your terms, the rain (the coming down of rain) still existed at the time of the noticing.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    England English
    Could you give us the next sentence or two in the book? I don't find the usage wrong, as there was a short delay between the arrival of the text and the person's looking at it. However, there might be a further explanation. Was this latest alert actually for voicemail, or even a direct call? If so, the latest contact made might have been in order to complain that the earlier text message hadn't been responded to.

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