2

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 ?

5

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. – Gamal Thomas Jan 4 '17 at 13:31
  • 3
    The example hadn't been beautifully contextualized. – Jim Reynolds Jan 4 '17 at 14:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.