The sun rose on the same tidy front gardens and lit up the brass number four on the Dursleys' front door; it crept into their living room, which was almost exactly the same as it had been on the night when Mr. Dursley had seen that fateful news report about the owls. (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

It seems ‘had been’ needs to be followed by a complement, yet its place is vacant. Is this right, or does ‘it had been’ need no complement?

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    Suppose instead of describing the sun rising, Rowling had described the birds doing their "dawn chorus"? Then she might have written about the birds' twittering being almost exactly the same as they had sounded on some prior morning. What makes you thing you need a "complement"? Feb 28, 2013 at 4:09

1 Answer 1



"It had been" in this case refers to "the living room" having been in a state previous to the current sentence written in past tense;

In this case, the narrator is reporting the fact that the sun rose. At the time (in the past) when the sun rose, the living room was almost exactly the same as a time even before that, namely at some point prior to that when Mr Dursley had seen the fateful news report about the owls.

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