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"for" with past perfect and expression of time

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"for" with past perfect and expression of time

Postby tarasensei » Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:37 am

Hi all,

Please help me! This question was on a test; which of the following two is correct?

1. Tom had not studied in Japan two weeks before he got homesick.

2. Tom had not studied in Japan for two weeks before he got homesick.


Apparently #1 is the correct answer. Can someone please explain why???

Thanks a thousand times over!

:-) Tarasensei
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Re: "for" with past perfect and expression of time

Postby Josef » Thu Sep 02, 2010 1:16 pm

Neither sentence makes much sense, but #2 seems more "correct" than #1.

It would make even more sense, and be perfectly correct, in the positive:

Tom had studied in Japan for two weeks before he got homesick.
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Re: "for" with past perfect and expression of time

Postby Tukanja » Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:01 pm

Tom got homesick even though he had studied in Japan for two weeks only.

He wouldn't get homesick after two weeks if he had been dating a nice girl. ;-)
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Re: "for" with past perfect and expression of time

Postby Tukanja » Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:19 pm

, besides.*

The preposition "for" is always used with both the Present Perfect Tense and the Past Perfect Tense when showing an amount of time during which an either event has (had) been lasting or action have (had) been happening.
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Re: "for" with past perfect and expression of time

Postby Josef » Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:39 pm

Actually, I revise my comment. #2 is fine. I was thrown by the strangeness of #1.

What they are saying is that he got homesick before two weeks (of study) had passed.

Dating a nice girl could have helped. I guess it depends just how nice she was.

But note you should say:
He wouldn't have got / (have gotten AmE) homesick after two weeks if he had been dating a nice girl.

And note that in #2 he didn't get homesick after 2 weeks: he got homesick before two weeks.

#2 is correct.
#1 is not correct.

For "for" with perfect tenses see:
http://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verb ... ect_fs.htm

Also see:
http://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verb ... -since.htm
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Re: "for" with past perfect and expression of time

Postby Tukanja » Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:36 pm

Tom got homesick before he had studied two weeks in Japan.
I am :oops: because I didn't use the Perfect Conditional in the first part of the second sentence that represent the Third Conditional.
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Re: "for" with past perfect and expression of time

Postby Josef » Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:48 am

Actually Tukanja, I'm sorry - on reflection, even #1 is ok too.

We often say things like:

I hadn't been home five minutes before the phone rang.

meaning...

I hadn't been home for five minutes before the phone rang.

However, I think it's more in spoken English and for short periods (like 5 minutes) that we use this. I personally would not recommend using a structure like #1 in formal written English.
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