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When the gig was over Johnny's hand had swollen to the size of a catcher's mitt. The patron came over to Johnny, his face cut and swollen, gave Johnny a hug and in his english brogue, said it was the best he'd spent since he'd gotten lost in the USA trying to hitch hike to LA . Apparently, he was a roadie in the travelling troupe known as the Sex Pistols and had gotten seperated at an airport on the way across the USA heading for Los Angeles. John Rokker

I am wondering why did the writer choose past perfect? I know the event(gotten lost) is before the time of the story but using past perfect made the reader think that this event happened many times not once.

Is it to avoid this misunderstanding that the writer added the last sentence ?

If the writer had written "since he'd gotten lost" the reader could have thought that the event(getting lost) was very close to this best night wich was not

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    "using past perfect made the reader think that this event happened many times not once" - I'm not sure that's a rule. Do you mean Past Perfect Continuous (had been getting lost)? Dec 27, 2022 at 10:07
  • English brogue? It's usually Irish or Scottish accents that are described as a brogue. Dec 27, 2022 at 10:29
  • [correction: I was wondering why the writer chose etc.]
    – Lambie
    Dec 27, 2022 at 18:03
  • said it was the best he'd spent since he'd gotten lost in the USA trying to hitch hike to LA. The had gotten lost precedes the "was the last time". This is always the logic of the past perfect.
    – Lambie
    Dec 27, 2022 at 18:38
  • but "had gotten lost" is connected to" had spent" already past perfect, so the reader knows that the event"had gotten lost" takes place before the spending and obviously before the gig . So it seems that past simple is enough for the reader to undrestand quite well the time frame .
    – Yves Lefol
    Dec 27, 2022 at 21:50

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I'd be more likely to read "since he's gotten lost..." as "he has gotten lost and still is lost" - ie. the action takes place in the USA and the patron is still trying to find his way home.

Using Past Perfect here makes the event more definitely something that's fully completed in the past - the patron got lost a long time ago as a singular event.

(The grammar book explanation would be simply that "reported speech ([he] said it was...) makes you go one tense back", but I find this explanation overly simplistic and not always correct, especially in case of Present Perfect/Past Perfect where you can often not do that).

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  • I ve checked and it is written "had gotten lost"
    – Yves Lefol
    Dec 27, 2022 at 10:20
  • What is surprising here is that normally if the main clause is in past perfect "had ever spent" the since clause is very often past simple which is not the case here. May be the main clause here is "it was the best night" past simple so past perfect is here to indicate that the vent happened before this best night
    – Yves Lefol
    Dec 27, 2022 at 10:25
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    "Since he had got[ten] lost" certainly does not imply a repeated action. Dec 27, 2022 at 10:32
  • I 100% disagree that it should be "since he has gotten lost". Firstly, the sentence is reported speech, and while shifting doesn't always work, it does here.. Secondly, getting lost (especially in this case) is a one-time event: it is a one-time transition from "not lost" to "lost".
    – stangdon
    Dec 27, 2022 at 15:21
  • @stangdon I didn't imply it should be Present Perfect, quite the opposite - the context seems to match the Past Perfect usage I've mentioned in the second paragraph. And "getting lost" is a singular event, but it can either mean "starting to be lost" or "the entire episode of being lost" (compare "going out" as "leaving" vs "spending time out"). To me Present Perfect supports the former reading more, and Past Perfect the latter. Dec 28, 2022 at 3:00
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The highlighted clause

he had got lost (BrE)
he had gotten lost (AmE)

is the past perfect tense which doesn't imply repetitiveness.

The since clause might be either the past simple or the past perfect. When it's the latter, it stresses 2 things:

  • that it happened before another past event (the gig);
  • and that it continued to have its effect up to/during that past event.

Is it to avoid this misunderstanding that the writer added the last sentence?

No, it's to elaborate on his adventure.

If the writer had written "since he got seperated" the reader could have thought that the event(getting seperated) was very close to this best night wich was not.

It's separated. Both tenses are possible since it's obvious the "getting separated at an airport" event happened before the "gig" event. The author doesn't tell how much time separates the two events.

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    Just a little correction here: "gotten" isn't just used in AmE. While it is true that it is now viewed as non-standard and obsolete in standard BrE, it is still used in some dialects here in the UK.
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 27, 2022 at 12:10
  • and that it continued to have its effect up to/during that past event. You mean he was still lost at the time of the gig
    – Yves Lefol
    Dec 27, 2022 at 13:26

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