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I went to see my friend in the hospital but he had been alredy discharged from hospital and went to his home. So I went to his home.

Can I say ?

1) I had gone to see you in the Hospital but doctor said you had been discharged today.

  • You need to change been already to already been, please, and (the first) went to his home to gone to his home or, more naturally, simply gone home. I'll answer the actual question in a moment or so ... – Will Crawford Mar 20 '18 at 23:50
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Yes¹, but you need to add an article in front of doctor (either a doctor, as in any doctor at the hospital, or the doctor, meaning either specifically the one who spoke to you or perhaps the one who discharged your friend. Otherwise excellent.

@stangdon does make the (reasonable!) point that the past perfect is often overused, and particularly by those learning English as a foreign language. It’s often unnecessary, and even in this case you can avoid it, just by phrasing it as (for example) I went to the hospital to see you, but on arriving there was told you had already been discharged. You can’t avoid it for the second part of the sentence (had been or had already been discharged) because that very definitely happened before you got there and were informed of it.

I think it’s worth noting that often these forms differ between written and spoken English — the “more complex” tenses are much more common in writing; when speaking one tends to avoid them by adding a lot of extra words to indicate when and/or where one is talking about.

¹ For the <!--pedants--> inquiring minds who think it’s somehow wrong, simply consider that he must mean that he had arrived at the hospital with the intention of seeing his friend, prior to being informed by the doctor that his friend had already been discharged.

Q.E.D.

  • So what would be the correct way of saying this to my friend? – user4084 Mar 21 '18 at 2:48
  • As I said, you were almost right, but should add a or the before doctor. – Will Crawford Mar 21 '18 at 2:49
  • (You asked, Can I say: ...; I am answering Yes with a small correction). – Will Crawford Mar 21 '18 at 3:35
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No, "I had gone to see you" doesn't make sense here. The past perfect is used when we are discussing an event that happened in the past before another event in the past. That's why "the doctor said you had been discharged" is correct, but "I had gone to see you" doesn't.

The sequence of events looks like this:
1. You are discharged from the hospital
2. I go to see you at the hospital and the doctor tells me about event #1.
3. I tell you about event #2.

So at time #3, I can say that at time #2, you already had been discharged (because the discharge happened before I went to see you), but it doesn't make sense to say "I had gone to see you" because going to see you didn't happen before some other event that we're talking about.

  • Why does it not make sense? He is talking about an event (going to the hospital) that happened before another (but then the doctor told him…). – Will Crawford Mar 20 '18 at 23:59
  • @WillCrawford Maybe if it were very explicit, like "I had gone to see you before I learned that X" but you don't have to use past perfect every time one thing happens before another in a story, or then we'd use it all the time. – stangdon Mar 21 '18 at 11:40
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    …but it’s not that rare, and telling him that it’s wrong is unhelpful, at best. His grammar is, beside the omission of the article, impeccable. – Will Crawford Mar 21 '18 at 16:08
  • I am going to stick with my original assessment: the past perfect is used to relate two past event when one was complete before the other, and we don't have that. Saying "I had gone" implies that there was some other event that the going was before; but that's not what happened, the speaker is simply describing a past incident. Also, overuse of the perfect is a hallmark of non-native speakers, to the point where people here recommend "Don't use the perfect unless you really have to." – stangdon Mar 21 '18 at 18:14
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    That is a reasonable point (that it tends to be overused). As for non-native speakers, it must depend on the native language, because I so often hear the opposite (I go or I am going instead of I went or I was going). But please tell him it's unnecessary rather than claim it's nonsense or "bad" grammar. – Will Crawford Mar 21 '18 at 19:13

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