I found such a sentence:

We had not reached the station yet when it began to rain

And as I see the logic of English people, it's so:

The action of "not reaching" happened firstly and only then happened the action "it began to rain".

Oooookay, but!

What if we will add the word "already" to the rain part to make a hint that it should be Perfect, too:

We had not reached the station yet when it had already begun to rain

Is it correct? It's a problem, because both parts have some word which hints at using "Past Perfect". For the first part of the sentence it's "yet" and for the latter one is "already". What to do? Which action happened firstly then if both of them are in Past Perfect? Paradox...

  • I prefer "We had not reached the station before it began to rain." – Weather Vane Apr 21 at 8:14
  • I'm assuming rached is a typo, since you spelled reached correctly in the first example. – James K Apr 21 at 8:21

You shouldn't use the past perfect in your example. It is incorrect.

You want to indicate that the arrival at the station was after the start of the rain. So you say "We had not yet arrived at at the station when it began to rain". The when clause gives the time, the main clause indicates that an event did not happen before this time (and implies it happen after). Also note the fluent placement of "yet"

Using the double past perfect just doesn't make sense:

When it had already begun to rain... (at some time after the rain started)
...we had not yet arrived at the station

At some time after the rain started we were not at the station. But the present is "some time after the rain started" so this tells us nothing about the time when we arrived or even if we arrived at all.

Because the sentence is now rather meaningless we don't use the past perfect like this.

  • Okay, is it possible to say "We had not yet arrived at the station when it already began to rain"? Just changing Past Perfect for Past SImple but saving "already"? – Michael Azarenko Apr 21 at 9:13
  • That sentence looks like the sort of semi-grammatical speech that native speakers would call a mistake. It looks like you had started to say one thing, but then changed your mind an ended up with a fairly meaningless bag of words. If speaking carefully, you would not use that sentence. You could say "It had already begun to rain when we arrived a the station", for example with the same meaning but much more clearly. – James K Apr 21 at 10:50
  • You mean I could have said something like "We had not yet arrived to the station when it had already begun to rain[by the evening]? Will it be correct with the "[by the evening]". You want to say that the "we had not yet arrived to the station" part is in Perfect because it has "when it began to rain" like a reson to be in Perfect, but the "it began to rain" partdoesn't have its own hard reason to be in Perfect, am I right? – Michael Azarenko Apr 21 at 11:15
  • I still think that this is not correct. Or at least the past perfect is simply not adding any meaning. We don't say that. I can't think of an similar sentence when the past perfect would be used like this. The time given in the "when" clause needs a simple past (and without "already") , otherwise there is very little meaning to the sentence. – James K Apr 21 at 11:21

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