Look at this sentence. It is an answer found in a exercise

Two years ago they called in a famous architect, who has already designed some great buildings.

I think there is a mistake; because it should be "had already designed"; Am I right?

  • I think "has already designed" can be correct; but for that purpose more context will be needed to make a final decision. But, your "had" version is correct too.
    – M.A.R.
    Jan 26 '15 at 19:42
  • You're right user5577. While we could construct a scenario in which the original sentence might be grammatical, it would never flow as smoothly as a sentence with matching tenses. I tried to write an answer that included such a scenario and deleted it because it was just too contrived. More than 99% of the time your answer (with matched tenses) will be the correct one. Jan 26 '15 at 20:14
  • I think the original might be grammatical, but very unlikely to be stated like this. The frame of reference for this sentence is the past ("two years ago") so present perfect doesn't make sense usually. Note that you wouldn't typically say "Two years ago they called in an architect who designs libraries". You might emphasize that the architect now designs libraries, but "designs libraries" without modifier sounds weird. The present perfect is weirder since I don't see a modifier which makes sense for why the result state up to the present moment matters.
    – eques
    Jan 26 '15 at 20:21
  • Could you tell us or link to the source?
    – user3169
    Jan 26 '15 at 20:29

"Two years ago they called in a famous architect, who has already designed some great buildings."

In most contexts, it should indeed be "had already designed".

The key here is the word "already".

If the sentence were just:

"Two years ago they called in a famous architect, who has designed some great buildings."

... then it would be correct. Kind of awkward, but correct. I would read the "who has designed some great buildings" as a general statement about this architect, regardless of time frame.

But when they say "who has already designed some great buildings", that strongly implies that they're referring to great buildings that he designed before this two-years-ago point in time. Which makes it the past relative to the past. Which means we need the pluperfect - "had designed", rather than "has designed".

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