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"Amadeus" around 01:17:56-01:18:24/03:00:25

LEOPOLD: Is she not here?

MOZART: No, she had to help her mother.
She's like that.
Her mother's a very sweet woman, you'll-- I didn't know you were home. Stanzi, this is my father. We'll wait. We'll wait.

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1 Why did Mozart use "had" when talking about the present regularity? ("She's like that.")

2 Can I say "I didn't know you are home" in this scene? Compared with "I didn't know you were home", which one is better?

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    He is not talking about the present. He is referring to the obligation that caused her to leave. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 10 '18 at 10:17
  • He could say She has to help her mother in which case he would be referring to the present obligation that explains her absence. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 10 '18 at 10:21
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she had to help her mother

Because she said him (past) something like this: "I have to help my mother". Her mother needed help yesterday (or at another moment in the past)

I didn't know you are home

sounds somehow unidiomatic. I didn't know (past) you are home (present) seems to indicate that I can see the future (past -> present) but my ultra senses failed me.

I didn't know you were home

This sounds correct. I didn't know you were home (both past) indicates that I apologize for entering your room without knocking (present) because I didn't know (past) what I know just now.

Before entering the room, I assumed (past) that you weren't home (past).

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  • Another question: why did Mozart use "had" when talking about the present situation? – Zhang Jian Jun 10 '18 at 8:49
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    Because she said him (past) something like this: "I have to help my mother". Her mother needed help yesterday (or at another moment in the past) – RubioRic Jun 10 '18 at 8:53
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    She may have said to him "I have to help my mother" and had in that case it would be the backshift for reported speech, but that's merely a plausible inference. Since there's no "She said she had to..." this can simply be a reference to the obligation that caused her to leave. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 10 '18 at 13:01

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