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"You could have told me that he had taken the taxi back home" Is this grammatically correct? By the way "had taken" is not used here as back shift of "has taken". "Had taken" is used for past happening here

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    Yes, it's grammatically correct and idiomatic. Nov 15, 2021 at 9:08
  • It's "grammatical", but I don't think it's that "idiomatic". I'm sure the vast majority of native speakers would use Simple Past in this context: You could have told me that he took a taxi home. Nov 15, 2021 at 11:49
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    Not the topic, but the attachment of "back home" could be either to told or had taken. Nov 15, 2021 at 13:24
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    I don't recognise the concept "had taken taxi" cannot stand alone for past happening. Unless what you mean is Past Perfect is only valid if the current "narrative focus" identifies some point in past time relative to which the Perfect reference came before. In the cited context this just means "he" took the taxi some time before the time at which addressee could have told the speaker that he had taken it (or that he took it, both verbs are syntactically / logically fine). It's a stylistic choice, where as John says, native speakers don't care much which choice we make. Nov 16, 2021 at 11:24
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    Yes, it sounds to me like you've correctly understood the Past Perfect requires that the narrative / conversational context must have already established a "reference time" in the past, so that the perfect verb form can be used to refer to things that [had] happened earlier. But as also indicated by John Lawler, just because a context "allows" the Past Perfect doesn't mean native speakers will always actually use it. There's always a tendency to use the simplest possible verb form in many contexts where different versions are at least "acceptable". Nov 17, 2021 at 12:51

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