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I'm a bit confused about something that looks like a modifier/adjective.

"I meant to send you this draft instead of the one I sent you."

Does "I sent you" modify (like an adjective) the "one", so to speak, or is it actually a verb tense? If it is a verb tense, should I be using "the one I had sent you"?

"I’m emailing you about the one you sent earlier. I checked it and saw that it was the wrong attachment."

Does "you sent earlier" modify the "one", or does it actually specify time? If it does, should I say "you had sent" since "checking" and "seeing" might have happened after the sending?

  • I think it should be "I sent to you", not "I sent you". – rogermue Jan 3 '16 at 7:34
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"I sent you" is a reduced relative clause modifying the one; the full form would be:

I meant to send you this draft instead of the one which I sent you.

The relative pronoun may be dropped when it represents an object of the verb in the relative clause, as it does here. In formal use the relative pronoun is not dropped when it represents the subject in the relative clause, but you may encounter this in informal speech:

I heard it from the guy runs the convenience store. (= who runs)

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Yes, in your examples, "I sent you" and "you sent earlier" are adjective phrases modifying the word "one".

In either case you could say "had sent" and it wouldn't really change the meaning. As you probably realize from the fact that you're asking, "sent" is past tense and "had sent" is past perfect. Simple past means the action was complete in the past; past perfect means the action was completed before some other action.

But in this case, both are grammatically correct, and there is no substantial difference in meaning. It just doesn't matter. In either case, the first draft was sent at some time in the past.

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