Was it because some emergency (had) happened?

This is written in past-tense narration, and the character is referring to an event in the past (based on her current "present").

So do I need to add "had"? Why or why not?

  • 2
    No, it's not needed. (I'll leave it to an answerer to explain why not.) – J.R. Oct 30 '15 at 9:36

Here is a set of very basic rules for using "has", "have" and "had".

Present tense:

I/you/we/they = have

he/she/it/PROPER NAME OR TITLE = has

Past tense (simple)

I/you/we/they/he/she/it/PROPER NAME OR TITLE = had

There are also times when it is more correct to use "have had" or "has had", but those rules are a bit more complex

Future tense (simple)

I/you/we/they/he/she/it/PROPER NAME OR TITLE = will have

We use the verb had and the past participle for the past perfect:

I had finished the work.

She had gone .

The past perfect continuous is formed with had been and the -ing form of the verb:

I had been finishing the work

She had been going.

The past perfect is used in the same way as the present perfect, but it refers to a time in the past, not the present.

We use the past perfect tense:

for something that started in the past and continued up to a given time in the past:

When George died he and Anne had been married for nearly fifty years.

She didn’t want to move. She had lived in Liverpool all her life.

We normally use the past perfect continuous for this:

She didn’t want to move. She had been living in Liverpool all her life.

Everything was wet. It had been raining for hours.

for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of reporting:

He was a wonderful guitarist.

He had been playing ever since he was a teenager.

He had written three books and he was working on another one.

I had been watching the programme every week, but I missed the last episode


We often use a clause with since to show when something started in the past:

They had been staying with us since the previous week. I was sorry

when the factory closed. I had worked there since I left school. I had

been watching that programme every week since it started, but I missed the last episode.

when we are reporting our experience and including up to the (then) present:

My eighteenth birthday was the worst day I had ever had. I was pleased to meet George. I hadn’t met him before, even though I had met his wife several times.

for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of reporting:

I couldn’t get into the house. I had lost my keys. Teresa wasn’t at home. She had gone shopping.

We use the past perfect to talk about the past in conditions, hypotheses and wishes:

I would have helped him if he had asked. It was very dangerous. What if you had got lost? I wish I hadn’t spent so much money last month.

  • 2
    Please format your answer to make it more readable. – Usernew Oct 30 '15 at 10:32
  • 2
    Please do not copy directly from the sites. Address the question precisely in your own way. If you want to recommend the entire page, do so by putting a link. – Maulik V Oct 30 '15 at 11:13
  • @AnandKumar So, do I need the "had" in my sentence? I'm a little confused with all the examples. – alexchenco Oct 30 '15 at 12:15

Was it because some emergency (had) happened?

You don't need to put the because clause in the past perfect. The sentence indicates a clear order of two events; one action happrning straight after another action in the past. Moreover, you don't need to emphasize the action that happened before another action in the past.

So the because clause should be in the past simple.

  • Thanks for the answer. I always get confused about this. For example, I have no idea why the "had" is needed here: "Since we had postponed burying the dog, we'd had to find a place to keep him. The house, although spacious, hadn't been an option." This is in the past tense (referring to a past action from their point of view). I also see a clear order of events. However, a native Speaker pointed out I needed the "had's". – alexchenco Oct 31 '15 at 1:47
  • If you don't want to emphasize the earlier action "postpone", you can use the past simple " Since we postponed burying the dog, we had to...... – Khan Oct 31 '15 at 5:51
  • As for the second sentence, you can also say "was not an option". – Khan Oct 31 '15 at 14:06
  • I see. I'm curious, why isn't necessary to write "... hadn't been an option"? – alexchenco Oct 31 '15 at 15:33
  • alexchenco, look at the following sentence which has the same meaning: Although the house was spacious, it was not an option. – Khan Nov 1 '15 at 12:23

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