The Apple dictionary defines the word "breed" and gives this example to show a meaning:

Theodora had been beautifully bred.

I know the past perfect comes when there are two actions in the past, and one of them happened before the other; yet in this example there is only one verb or one action.

So what does it indicate or how does the meaning here differ from the simple past tense ?

1 Answer 1


Context, context, context! Dictionaries haven't got room enough to provide context for all their example sentences; but in real life such sentences only occur in some context.

You ordinarily employ a past perfect in a narrative context—a novel, for instance, or a story or history, where the events all occur in your past. At any given point in the narrative you are talking about a particular past time, and you use the past perfect to bring in events which occurred earlier than that time.

In this case, for instance, which probably derives from a novel, it is likely that Theodora's breeding is brought into the story in order to provide background for a character making her first appearance, or to explain her behavior at the current moment in the story.

  • Many thanks for you Stoney, I did not know about that dictionaries' problem before. Now it is clear. Thank you. Jan 4, 2017 at 13:31
  • 3
    The example hadn't been beautifully contextualized. Jan 4, 2017 at 14:32

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