I was wondering if I should use present perfect tense or past perfect tense for a question that I would ask using present perfect tense in a normal case.

I know I should make it past form, but on the other hand using past perfect may convey different sense. I mean here is that I mention an once-in-a-lifetime experience not something has been done recently.

  1. I was wondering if you have ever been to Hungary.

  2. I was wondering if you had ever been to Hungary.

  • As the reporting verb wonder is in the past, the if/whether clause should be accirdingly. So you say "I was wondering if/whether you had ever been......"
    – Khan
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 4:08
  • @Khan My first reaction when I read your comment: "That doesn't sound right." It looks like the two answers below agree with me. Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 8:02

2 Answers 2


Y'know, I don't think it makes a difference. The subordinate clause is independent of the verb "wondering" and doesn't have to match verb tense. For example, all of these are fine:

I am thinking you have been to Europe.

I was thinking you have been to Europe.

I am thinking you had been to Europe.

I was thinking had been to Europe.

There is a subtle difference between "have ever been" and "had ever been". "Have been" implies "have the experience of", while "had been" implies "before a particular moment or event". However since "a particular event" could be "now", the meaning of both is very similar, at least in this context.

Also, there's often very little difference between "am wondering" and "was wondering". While you might reasonably think "was wondering" indicates a past event, in many cases the speaker simply means, "I was wondering this right before I spoke to you" -- in other words, up until this moment.

Additionally "I was wondering" is really more of a linguistic ornament used before a question or statement, and doesn't always mean that I was actually thinking about this for a significant amount of time. It's just a polite way to show interest.


The interesting thing about the question

I was wondering if you had ever been to Hungary?

is the answer might be

Yes I have.

Your other question (which is more natural)

I was wondering if you have ever been to Hungary?

has the possible nuance that if you haven't been to Hungary would you consider going

I was wondering if you have ever done something?
No, but I would really like to.
Yes I have but it was a horrible experience.

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