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Please, read the following quote:

I finally finished tidying about 3 a.m. (after I moved the furniture) and a few minutes later I was fast asleep. I woke up suddenly at 8 a.m. I had arranged to meet my parents at the airport at 8.30 a.m. but I hadn't set the alarm!

If moving the furniture which was already narrated in the story was one of the causes of the current distressing state, can I still refer to it using the past perfect tense? i.e something like "I hadn't set the alarm and had moved the furniture"? or it is a choice because it's already mentioned in the story in clear order?

This was a comment on my previous post "Reference Time, Coordinating Conjunctions and Past Simple/Perfect Tense" which was answered gratefully by @StoneyB, but it is a different question.

  • I think that the had moved is for back referencing (interrupting the time line started from finished), but doesn't change the time line itself, so the time line should continued the same way with or without the furniture moving. – Damkerng T. Dec 30 '13 at 19:05
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    Allude is generally followed by to. – snailboat Dec 30 '13 at 19:28
  • Referencing a prior event is not the same as introducing it. So the time line would not change. But the question is still about how you reference an already introduced a narrative event? I can guess but I just want to know/confirm rather than infer/guess! @snailboat Thanks; it's been edited. – learner Dec 30 '13 at 19:28
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    In narrative, the first few sentences should establish (introduce) the time line. I think this is very much like when you watch a movie. As the narration progresses, the time line progresses along with it. (Which is why I prefer to think of past participle as a way for referencing to events backwardly. I think it's the same to your "allude to" an event that happened in the past before the past.) Actually, I just cracked it out after discussing with you this evening. You might want to verify this with native speakers, but for me, this is something very satisfying. – Damkerng T. Dec 30 '13 at 19:45
  • What you have just written about the time line and the "interruptions" of the past perfect, I had already made it into a chart before you bring it up ! - Now is my writing grammatically correct? I think I'll ask @StoneyB for this one. I really want to skin this cat once and for all! – learner Dec 30 '13 at 20:16
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If you feel a need to bring up the furniture-moving at the 8 am RT, yeah, ya gotta use a past perfect if you're going to use a tensed verb:

I finally finished tidying about 3 a.m., and a few minutes later I was fast asleep. I woke up suddenly at 8 a.m. I had arranged to meet my parents at the airport at 8.30 a.m. but I'd moved all the furniture and tired myself out, so I hadn't set the alarm.

But FumbleFingers‘ Perfect Truism tells us “Don’t use the past perfect unless you have to” There are better ways of skinning this cat—participles and gerunds, for instance:

I finally finished tidying about 3 a.m., and a few minutes later I was fast asleep. I woke up suddenly at 8 a.m. I had arranged to meet my parents at the airport at 8.30 a.m., but tired out from moving all the furniture, I hadn't set the alarm—and now I was late.

  • Sorry @StoneyB to ask you about the meaning of "tensed verb!" cause I can smell a tenseless verb. Maybe an example would suffice. Anyway, the idea is to know all the common ways of skinning the cat even the less nice ones! Before selecting your answer as accepted I just want to confirm that you understood from me that the referenced event of moving is already mentioned before being referenced by the past perfect; I didn't see it in your quote. I just don't want to leave room for misunderstanding! As for the answer is great assuming the conditions are fulfilled. – learner Dec 30 '13 at 20:14
  • Could you check the grammar (perfect tense) of what I wrote to DT above @StoneyB ? "What you have just written about the time line and the interruptions of the past perfect, I had already made it into a chart before you bring it up" - could the present perfect used as RT for another earlier event? – learner Dec 30 '13 at 20:20
  • Actually, it's better to ask it as a new question rather than leaving it covered up by the comments. By the way, it's "you brought it up". After this question I should stop because I'm getting tired. – learner Dec 30 '13 at 20:39
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I finally finished tidying about 3 a.m. (after I moved the furniture) and a few minutes later I was fast asleep. I woke up suddenly at 8 a.m. I had arranged to meet my parents at the airport at 8.30 a.m. but I hadn't set the alarm!

There is really nothing wrong with the quote. I would prefer "had moved the furniture", but "moved" is fine, too. In an anecdote, generally, the rules are more relaxed. StoneyB's examples are much clearer, but they really change the tone.

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