She waited for the guests until they "have arrived" or "had arrived"

i feel like She waited for the guests until they have arrived is the correct answer

because the first action is her waiting for guests to arrive

and the second action is the arrival of guests

but my textbook says the correct answer is "had arrived"

correct me if i am wrong

thanks in advance

1 Answer 1


Neither of the versions in the question is very idiomatic. It's not wrong in terms of have versus had, but comparing those exact two sentences is quite unusual.

Instead, I would compare these two:

1. ✘ She waited until the guests have arrived.
2. ✔ She waited until the guests had arrived.

Between those two, it's the combination of waited and had that sounds best, because both are in a similar past tense. The first is not outright wrong, but it's unnatural to the point that it would never normally be used.

You could also simply drop the helper verb altogether:

✔ She waited until the guests arrived.

On the other hand, the reverse is the case if the tense of waited is changed to the present:

3. ✔ She waits until the guests have arrived.
4. ✘ She waits until the guests had arrived.

Or, as before, you can drop the helper verb—but doing so would mean also tweaking the final verb:

✔ She waits until the guests arrive.

Finally, a variation can be used if for is really to be used instead of until:

✔ She waited for the guests to arrive.
✔ She waits for the guests to arrive.

The infinitive can be used in both sentences, since it, itself, doesn't have a tense.

  • Bassford.What about She had waited until the guests arrived.The first action is waiting and the arrival of guests is the second action. Sep 30, 2019 at 4:14
  • 2
    @JVL That would work too—as would she has waited until the guests arrived, in the right context. But it's the tense of waited that's determining the tense that comes later. Sep 30, 2019 at 4:18
  • @JasonBassford i have same confusion as JVL , how are we able to use past perfect with the second action in "She waited until the guests had arrived." when past perfect is used to talk about an action that happened before another action in the past , in this case first action is is waiting and second one is arrival of guests.what do you mean by "it's the combination of waited and had that sounds best" ?
    – AmirWG
    Sep 30, 2019 at 12:52
  • 1
    @AmirWG Generally, although certainly not always, the tenses in a sentence should remain the same. When they are different (again, depending on the specific sentence), it can sound strange, if not even illogical. For instance, you would not normally say, I ate a meal that will be prepared next week. In this case, waited is past tense and have is present tense; the two do not work together idiomatically. It should be either waited and had (both past tense) or waits and have (both present tense). Sep 30, 2019 at 14:39
  • @JasonBassford i get it now , thanks a lot for your time.
    – AmirWG
    Sep 30, 2019 at 14:49

You must log in to answer this question.

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