While drinking his tea, Billy had realised that the sleeping dog hadn't moved at all. The dog had been silent and motionless since Billy arrived. In fact, why would he have moved? He seemed to be so comfortable ! Finally, Billy reached out to stroke him. Actually, when he did pet him, he couldn't believe his eyes ... It was so unexpected ! The dog's back was hard and cold and when Billy pushed the hair, he could have seen the greyish-black and dry skin, perfectly preserved ... 'Good gracious ! It's fascinating ...', he exclaimed ... Billy told the lady that the parrot, in its cage, had fooled him too, when he had seen it through the window ! The landlady explained how much she loved her little Basil and how she was glad to have stuffed him and kept him like all her other pets. Billy said he could have sworn Basil was alive ! 'That's because I stuff all my pets with passion, especially when their skin and teeth are so beautiful !...', she declared ...

"The Landlady" by Roald Dahl

I know that "had realised" means in this text that the action was completed, it happened before he thought that the dog was so comfortable but I was wondering if the author could have used "realised" .Would this change transform the meaning. I don't think so because the events are all in order


  • Billy couldn't realize the dog didn't move before seeing no motion, only after. So simple past would seem simpler: Billy realized that the sleeping dog hadn't moved at all. The dog had been silent and motionless. Oct 18, 2023 at 14:44
  • what do you mean by simpler ?
    – Yves Lefol
    Oct 18, 2023 at 14:56
  • 2
    Said "a thousand times" here in this forum. It depends on what you want to say and not grammar. If one thing precedes another and you want to show that, use it. If not, don't. It is as simple as that.
    – Lambie
    Oct 18, 2023 at 15:08
  • The dog's stillness came first (had been silent), so Dahl could have said Billy realised [not had realised] that the sleeping dog hadn't moved. Still, I hate to criticize the classics by second-guessing them. Oct 18, 2023 at 15:09
  • I think you might have a translation of a translation (from the original into French, then back to English). I don't believe Roald Dahl would write so badly. Why on earth would he start with Past Perfect here? I think at about this point in the original, the text is And suddenly, he realized that this animal had all the time been just as silent and motionless as the parrot. Oct 18, 2023 at 15:11

1 Answer 1


While drinking his tea, Billy realised that the sleeping dog hadn't moved at all.

That sentence is correct.The meaning of the sentence is the same with the meaning of the original sentence.

  • It isn't wrong. Why do you say it is? Billy has now finished his tea. But it was during the course of drinking it that he realised that the dog hadn't moved. And now, after finishing the tea, he reached out to stroke him. Therefore this is talking about a thing that happened before something else. Oct 19, 2023 at 19:27
  • @DanielRoseman Hi! You are right! I edited again my answer. Do you like it now? Could you please consider revising your downvote? Oct 20, 2023 at 4:28
  • @DanielRoseman Hi! Thank you very for revising your downvote! I haven't managed to find a similar sentence with the sentence "While drinking his tea, Billy had realised that the sleeping dog hadn't moved at all". Could you please help me! I have never found a sentence in which we have two actions and the first action begins before the action which is expressed with Past Perfect and ends after the sentence which is expressed with Past Perfect . Oct 23, 2023 at 7:12
  • @DanielRoseman I want to find a similar sentence in a grammar book! Oct 23, 2023 at 7:23

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