(given sentence) I barely finished my homework after he returns to my house. Here's the link that shows where this question is from. http://www.ggulpass.com/2017/05/2015-9_80.html This sentence is from choice #4 of question #10

According to the correct answer to the question, they say we need to change the tense of the verb 'returns' to returned because the tense of the verb 'finished' is PAST. But in my opinion, I think the verb 'returns' needs to be like 'had returned' because the event of his returning to the house had happened before another event, which was finishing the homework. I think that makes more sense in that way.

What am I missing here?


2 Answers 2


I am not a native speaker, but I don't think the sentence makes sense, personally. And I am sure it is not correct to change the verb tense "returned" to "had returned". The sentence sounds odd to me, if not technically wrong. It would sound more common if it's reworded as "I had barely finished my homework when he returned".


You have been asked to change the tense, but it seems you are only looking at the verb "returns".

You have suggested changing it to:

I barely finished my homework after he returned to my house.

This doesn't seem right for a lot of reasons. It now means that "he" returned to the house and then the person just managed to complete their homework. The word "barely" isn't normally used this way. When used to denote that you did manage something, but only just it is normally time-sensitive, that is to a deadline. I think the intended implication of this sentence is that the person just completed their homework by the time "he" arrived. But by modifying only the word "returned" as above this literally means that the person barely finished their homework after "he" arrived!

My guess is that the sentence should be:

I barely finished my homework before he returned to my house.

This makes sense - the verb "return" is in the correct tense and rest of the sentence maintains that consistency.


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