Let's say your bestfriend and his girlfriend has finally decided to marry each other. Knowing that, you now ask them if they talked the marriage through, and you say:

Have you guys talked this through before you made that decision.


Have you guys talked this through before you made that decision.

From my research, as for the sequence of events, the present perfect tense comes first and then the past tense if the situation is still happening right? But should I add HAD(from sentence#2) or not?

  • I think you're confusing the usage of have here. If I say, "Have you camped before?" I'm not asking if you're currently camping. Similarly, "Have you guys talked this through" doesn't imply they're actively talking about it.
    – Neil
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 13:10
  • I know what you mean in your example, but I added ''before you made this decision'' right. That's what I am not sure.
    – John Arvin
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 13:34
  • Well the second is wrong, but as these things sometimes go, I couldn't tell you exactly why it's wrong. I don't think you typically use pluperfect unless it's an event in the past being compared to a more recent event in the past.
    – Neil
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 13:43
  • I have never seen have had + pp! Your second sentence sounds awkward!
    – helen
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 13:44
  • A better way to say this sentence: Have you guys talked this through before making that decision?
    – helen
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


Have you guys had talked this through would be ungrammatical - a kind of past-past-perfect.

Have you talked this through is asking about something in the past but with present relevance: the relevance being that they are in a state of having agreed what they would do.

Did you talk this through would also be possible. As usual, the choice of present perfect or past is nothing to do with the objective events, but rather in how the speaker is choosing to structure them temporally.

I agree that it is a little odd to use the present perfect for the discussion, and then the simple past for the action which followed it; but only a little odd. The present perfect could not be used for "made", because it can't follow "before" in the past (it can do with future meaning), so it had to be "made" in the past. The simple past was possible for "talked this through", as I said, but so is the present perfect.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .