Can I use both Present Perfect and Past Perfect Continuous in the same sentence?

Apparently the army had been trying to advance last night but has been stopped by the enemy.

The reasons:

  1. Present Perfect - The army has been stopped and didn't try to advance again.
  2. Past Perfect Continuous - The attempt preceded the stop. A past action occurred before another past action.
  • 1
    You'd be more likely to find the past perfect continuous followed by the simple past, "had been trying ... but was stopped by the enemy", or a combination of present perfect continuous and present perfect: "has been trying ... but has been stopped". The past perfect is normally placed in relation to a discrete action in the past. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 24 '17 at 13:47
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo: The use of past perfect continuous followed by present perfect doesn't jar my ear in this case. I would be unlikely to write it that way, but "had been trying" reinforces preemptively the idea of the army having been stopped. – Robusto Oct 24 '17 at 15:52
  • @Robusto. If you're going to use the present perfect with "has been stopped", you'd use the past continuous with "The army was trying to advance last night". There's no need for the past perfect in that case. "The army was trying last night ... but has been stopped." – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 24 '17 at 17:10
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo: True, there's no need. But there is no need for a lot of the constructions people use when speaking. And it still would function the way I said it would. – Robusto Oct 24 '17 at 17:18
  • It strikes my ear as marginal to use the present perfect as the expression of time in relation to which the past perfect is situated. Change but to until and the issue becomes glaring. They had been trying to douse the flames until the fuel tank has caught fire. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 24 '17 at 20:30

Your Answer

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

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.