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What is the difference between the three answers or do they mean the same. Is the past perfect usage correct ? ( The past perfect tense is used to describe a past event that occurred prior to another past event)

A) No. I already saw it

B) No. I have already seen it.

C) No. I had already seen it last month.

Is usage of Past perfect tense with a specific point in time correct? (Present perfect tense cannot be used with past time)

Another sentence from a grammar book. The guests had arrived by 8 PM.

Can we use time expressions in past perfect tense? Is it correct?

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  • "Mean the same"—they all do the job of saying no and explaining why. The difference between them is the difference between past, present perfect, and past perfect. Please edit to explain what you already know about these tenses and what kind of help you need. In the meantime, I'm voting to close as unclear. Commented May 15 at 20:01
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    C) is not idiomatic. No reason to use the past perfect in response to "Are you coming?"
    – TimR
    Commented May 15 at 20:37
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    "The past perfect tense is used to describe a past event that occurred prior to another past event"—or, in simpler words, it's for when you're already talking about the past, and you need to talk about a farther past. There's only one past event that you're talking about here. C) could be the right answer to "Were you coming to see the movie." Commented May 15 at 20:50
  • You’ve got about a half dozen questions packed into this post. It’s best to pick one… or break them into individual posts. Each post should permit a single answer. Commented May 25 at 20:30
  • I've simplified the post by making changes. A thorough and comprehensive response had been given by @JamesK. Grammarians disagree on whether using the past perfect with time expressions (only one verb) is grammatically correct; in this case, clarity is all that is needed. My experience is this site doesn't accept short questions. Commented May 26 at 4:25

3 Answers 3

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The grammar is correct in all three, but the meaning is probably best expressed with a present perfect.

Your reply is giving the reason why you don't want to see the movie now. That is a clear connection to the present, so present perfect is a natural tense to use. "I've already seen it".

You could use the past tense. The event was in the past, but for the reason given above it is not the best choice. However if you wanted to give a time of when you saw the movie, you have to use the past tense: "I saw it last year"

There is no reason to use the past perfect. It tends to be used in narratives to describe some event that had finished before the time of the narrative. But there is no narrative time here, and no reason to use a past perfect. The use of past perfect would be marked, odd and unnatural.

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  • Are you coming to see the movie 'Titanic' ? No, I had seen it last year. (Can past perfect be used if it is long past ?) Commented May 15 at 23:42
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    The use of the past perfect, would be unnatural, but the grammatical form is correct. If your reply talked about something else, you might use past perfect. As a rule, don't use past perfect unless you absolutely have to. It is the wrong tense to use 99% of the time.
    – James K
    Commented May 16 at 4:50
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    So your question should not be "can I use past perfect". It should be "must I use past perfect?" and the answer to that is "no".
    – James K
    Commented May 16 at 4:51
  • Thank you for your contribution to the post and it had been helpful. I needed clarification whether using past perfect is grammatically correct. I understand it is better to avoid using it. Commented May 16 at 8:14
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    But "I told him I didn't want to go with him, because I had seen the movie the week before" - reporting a past conversation. Commented May 16 at 8:54
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As far as speech goes, you are safe to use either A or B. I would stay away from C when talking with people. The past perfect is used primarily when telling a story.

The most correct answer is A. Because the sentence uses "coming" as opposed to "going". If this is the case, there is only one tense that can be derived from the sentence: present. If the sentence uses "Are you going to see the movie", the person could have already seen the movie and is asking if you are going to see it at some point too. In this case, using B would make the most sense.

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The idiomatic choice for most dialects of English is B:

No. I have already seen it.

Option A, "I already saw it" is common but sounds like an Americanism to my British English ears. BrEng speakers use the verb 'watched' in connection with viewing TV and movies as much as 'seen' and while we certainly do say that we have "seen" a movie, and maybe even speak about where and when we "saw" it, "already saw" just doesn't sound as idiomatic as "already watched" or "I have already seen it".

Option C is wrong because it improperly uses the past perfect tense. The past perfect tense (ie "had seen") is used to describe an action that was completed before another action in the past. This is a direct answer to a question, so there is no sequence of actions.

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