General Question

susanc's avatar

Does this verb form strike a strange note with anyone but me?

Asked by susanc (16107points) April 20th, 2009

Like here: “Has this ever happened to you? You had become more (physically) attracted to someone, the more time that had you spent with them?” All respects to jmah, who asked this question. It’s a good question. But why not “you became” and “you spent”? Why so complex? Why not also write “Had this ever happened to you?” I don’t get it.

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12 Answers

robmandu's avatar

I don’t assume everyone here is a native English speaker.

dynamicduo's avatar

“Had become” implies to me that the person was Y, become X around when the event occurred, and is now back to Y. I doubt this is is the concept that jmah was trying to express. Yes, your versions are more appropriate. As @robmandu says, it’s likely that they are not a native English speaker. This is a good assumption to make when being on the Internet.

susanc's avatar

Places jmah has lived: Sarnia, Windsor, London, San Diego. The first three places are in Canada.

This isn’t about jmah. People all over the place use this construction more and more frequently. I’m just finding jmah’s example really a good one. Not targeting jmah. Props to jmah.

Jude's avatar

@susanc, you’re right. I’m home and my body is filled with cold/sinus meds. I posted it this morning (early) and it didn’t come out right. Also, I just realized this “the more time that had you spent with them”..wtf??

If only I could go back and edit…

asmonet's avatar

lurve for…wtf??

gailcalled's avatar

How about reversing the clauses? “The more time you spent with someone, the more physically attracted you felt”? Or use the present tense. The more time you spend with someone, the more p a y feel.”

The “had become” is the past perfect continuous and is used to to express the duration of a continuous activity begun before another activity in the past.

“She had been waiting for three hours when he finally arrived.”

A useful exercise, here and in life, is to type your question, go get a cup of coffee and then return, edit and simplify.

susanc's avatar

I want to publicly thank jmah for her graciousness. I’m sure I could have – or, to really relish the constant evolution of the language, could OF – found a more neutral example of this construction. But hers was perfect; plus, because all her other writing is
so clear, I thought it wasn’t a “mistake”, just a shift in usage that I’m not caught up to….
er, to which I haven’t caught up.

But: where did it come from? Why is it happening?

Thank you, Gail. I knew you’d come through for us!

gailcalled's avatar

The different tenses in English (and certainly in the Romance languages that I am familiar with) were derived to deal with time issues.

Our language is being abased (or simplified, if you choose) by the free exchange of written info by people who either don’t know, don’t care, or have forgotten some of the niceties.

zephyr826's avatar

in a vaguely related note for language nerds, Happy Birthday Strunk and White (last Thursday)!

squirbel's avatar

That is the pluperfect tense [in English, this is called the past perfect]. Perfectly legit.

Pluperfect of state, where the consequence of some event is associated with that event during a narration in the past tense: “He saw that the door had opened, and children were running through it.” is nearly the same as ”...He saw that the door was open, and children…” A pluperfect of state is, in association to the fact of the action, midway between the past tense (the door opened yesterday) and the predicate adjective that is the past participle (the door was open since yesterday).

Pluperfect of action, where a series of pluperfect sentences carry a narration. This pluperfect is allied more closely to the usual preterite tense in English. It serves only to place a narration in the “more distant past,” without determining its particular time or duration, as follows: “He had risen early that morning and had drunk coffee earlier than usual.”

Strauss's avatar

@squirbel you beat me to it.

If the door was opened, say, during the day, and remained opened after sunset, the past perfect would be used:

The door had been opened before sunset.

Or, en español:

La puerta había sido abierta antes de puesta del sol.

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