Was/ had been

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Dear life

Senior Member
India- Bengali
At that time, her age was the same as was/ had been her brother's five years ago.

I was just reading the Tintern Abbey where Wordsworth, during his second visit of the place, sees in Dorothy the same passions, he had five years ago, on his first visit. So, it's just an assumption that at the time of the second visit Dorothy's age may be the same as was Wordsworth's five years before the second visit( at the time of the first visit).

If I want to write it in past, what should I choose from the pair?
Please help!
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The verb is (a) in the wrong place, (b) a verb is not needed (c) use "earlier" instead of "ago".

    At that time, her age was the same as her brother's was/ had been five years earlier.
    However, Dorothy would always have five years younger than her brother and thus the sentence does not make much sense.

    You may mean
    At the time of her visit, she was the same age that her brother had been when he had visited Tintern Abbey five years earlier.
     
    Last edited:

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Ago means earlier than NOW (= this time) — so "at that time" (= THEN) and "ago" don't belong in the same sentence. As PQ says, earlier is relative to whatever time applies within the context of what is being spoken/written about.
     

    Dear life

    Senior Member
    India- Bengali
    Thanks PQ & LB...Got it.:)
    However, I guess both can apply in the following case.
    A: Am I late? When did you reach?
    B: I just reached five minutes ago.
    OR-
    I reached five minutes earlier.
    Can both work here?:confused:
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    'Reach' is the wrong verb here. I think you mean 'arrive'?

    A: Am I late? When did you arrive?
    B: I just arrived five minutes ago. :tick:

    I arrived five minutes earlier. :cross:
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    A: Am I late? When did you get here?
    B: Oh, just five minutes ago.
    In this example we are making a time reference to the present moment, now, so we use 'ago'

    Let's say you're telling someone about this meeting at a later date. Your time reference is not 'now' because that's when you're telling the story and not when it happened. You might say,
    When I got there, she was waiting for me so I asked her how long she had been there. She reassured me she had arrived just five minutes earlier.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    We can use arrive by itself.
    -- I arrived.

    But we don't use reach by itself.
    -- I reached.

    But we can use it with here, there, and other words.
    -- I reached here five minutes ago.
    -- I expected to get to the top before she did but I reached there at the same time she did.
    -- I reached the top of the mountain at 5 pm.


    Even so, other ways are more common.
    -- I got here five minutes ago.
    -- I expected to get to the top before she did but I arrived there at the same time she did.
    -- I made it to the top of the mountain at 5 pm.
     

    Dear life

    Senior Member
    India- Bengali
    Got it! Thanks everyone :)
    But we don't use reach by itself.
    -- I reached.
    So, 'reached' must be followed by the place where we arrive at. Am I right?
    E.g. I reached my house:tick:. I arrived ten minutes earlier.:tick:
    Whereas,
    I arrived at my house.:tick:I reached ten minutes earlier:cross:

    Please let me know if I have grasped it correctly.
     
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