1

I really appreciate all the people in this site. Anyway I've learnt Past Perfect tense today. But one question's come up in my head, which is that "can I use past perfect tense twice in a sentence?".

I am still awkward with those so please excuse my example.

Last night I was thinking about my new year's resolution I had set to finish the painting for my mother I had had started to draw last summer.

Is this grammatically alright? Thanks.

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Jan 23 '18 at 12:17

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

  • Are you sure you want had had started? – KarlG Jan 23 '18 at 11:44
  • There's no past-past perfect. Here, you could just re-use the past perfect for the even earlier timeframe, but I'd go as far as the past simple unless switching to 'the previous summer': << Last night I was thinking about the New Year's resolution I had made to finish the painting for my mother I started to draw last summer. >> – Edwin Ashworth Jan 23 '18 at 12:03
1

You must remove the surplus had because there is no past-past-perfect. The sentence would be easier to understand if you added a colon and a couple of thats.

Last night I was thinking about my new year's resolution that I had set: to finish the painting for my mother that I had started to draw last summer.

This sentence is complicated, but grammatically correct. A reader would understand that:

  1. Last night you were thinking about your new year's resolution.
  2. You made the new year's resolution at some time before thinking about the resolution.
  3. You started painting the picture before making the new year's resolution.

The reader cannot deduce the third point from the use of the past perfect I had started, because that could also indicate that you started the painting before thinking about your new year's resolution.

The reader can deduce the third point because the new year's resolution is about finishing the painting, which means that you must have started it before making the new year's resolution.

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.