My book says that there is an error in part A of this sentence.

Had anybody (A) ever told you (B)that you're beautiful ? (C) No error (D)

I googled for the sentence and found results were sentences starting with HAS instead of HAD but why do we have to use HAS here ? In part B tell is in past form ( told ) so shouldn't we use past in part A also ?

  • 1
    I'm not sure that the word "error" is correct. Both are grammatically valid sentences, their meaning and usage is just slightly different. It would be much more likely that a question with "Has" would be asked, but the version with "Had" isn't wrong, except that the past reference point isn't given.
    – SteveES
    May 31, 2017 at 14:32
  • 2
    The clue that something is amiss (I won't say ungrammatical) with had is present tense "that you are beautiful". We would expect to find "that you were beautiful" if the sentence had been couched in the past perfect. Had anyone ever told you (up to that point) that you were beautiful? The "error" could be A or C.
    – TimR
    May 31, 2017 at 14:44

1 Answer 1


A. is the error. Has means up until the present. Had means before some prior time.

Has anyone told you (x)?

This means: up until now, has anyone told you (x)?

Had anyone told you (x) before (y) happened?

This means: before (y) happened, had anyone told you (x)?

This article should help explain.

Present Perfect

Have or has is used with a past participle to form the present perfect tense. This tense designates action which began in the past but continues into the present, or the effect of the action continues into the present.

Past Perfect

This past perfect (also called the pluperfect) is formed with had and a past participle. The past perfect indicates an action that was completed in the past before another action took place.

See also this post.

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