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correct verbs

 
 
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 05:10 am
It is/was the most exciting trip that I had/have had/had had.

Which words in bold should be used?

Many thanks.

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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 05:24 am
@tanguatlay,
In the first instance, is or was could be used. In the second instance, which tense of the verb you would use would depend upon the context. I think most English speakers would prefer "I have had" over "I had," but "most exciting trip i had had" would be used if the anterior past were indicated. So, for example, you might say something to the effective of: "My trip to see the temples in Kyoto was the most exciting trip i've ever taken. I had visited Australia years ago, and had been very excited at the prospect. It was the most exciting trip I had had. But the trip to Kyoto proved to be even more exciting." In this example, the trip to Kyoto is in the past. The trip to Australia is in an earlier past, an anterior past. In that case, you would use the anterior past tense of the verb to describe it--"had had." I would add that many speakers of English are sublimely oblivious to the existence of a tense of verbs known as the anterior past, and might or might not use the form. I would suggest that many speakers of English would only use the anterior past intuitively, based on their experience of their language, and not because they are following any rule about the use of verbs.
tanguatlay
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 08:45 am
Thanks, Setanta.
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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 09:03 am
@tanguatlay,
tanguatlay wrote:
It is/was the most exciting trip that I had/have had/had had.


If the trip is not finished use "is" otherwise use "was". And for the second part you should use "had had" unless the sentence is further modified.

Americans sometimes neglect to use present perfect but it's easily the more appropriate tense for this kind of sentence. The connection to the present is that up until this point in his life he has not been on a more exciting trip and just about any time you speak about the entirety of your life in this context you use present perfect.

For example, if you want to express that you have not ever been to a certain city you say "I have never been to that city" (present perfect) and you don't say "I never went to that city" (simple past).

But if you are talking about a specific time frame in the past, and not your entire life you use simple past, e.g. "I was supposed to go to that city last year, but I never did go".

So as a basic rule, when you are talking about your entire life up to this moment you use present perfect tense.

- "I have lived a rich life" (if you say "I lived a rich life" you are strongly implying that this was at some point in the past and does not continue till the present)
- "I have read that book"
- "I have never eaten an egg"
tanguatlay
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 10:01 am
@Robert Gentel,
Thanks, Robert.
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JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 09:43 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
I would add that many speakers of English are sublimely oblivious to the existence of a tense of verbs known as the anterior past, and might or might not use the form. I would suggest that many speakers of English would only use the anterior past intuitively, based on their experience of their language, and not because they are following any rule about the use of verbs.


Set is confused about what constitutes a rule of grammar.

All, that's 100% of native speakers of English, are aware of the past perfect/anterior past and they use it in a manner that's described by the rules, the real rules of English grammar.

Virtually every rule of grammar is known to the native speakers of any language only in an intuitive sense. These "extra" rules, the "rules[s] about the use of verbs" that guide us in our use of language don't exist.


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JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 09:59 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
If the trip is not finished use "is" otherwise use "was".


Generally, yes, was would be the normal neutral. But if a person was recounting a number of trips and highlighting thee trip, is could be used. It adds somewhat the same degree of currency as the present perfect of importance/currentness does.

Quote:
And for the second part you should use "had had" unless the sentence is further modified.


Did you not mean 'have had', Robert?

Quote:
Americans sometimes neglect to use present perfect but it's easily the more appropriate tense for this kind of sentence. ... just about any time you speak about the entirety of your life in this context you use present perfect.


There's no absolute need to use the present perfect in this example. Even with the present perfect use of experience, there is an increasing trend in casual speech to use the simple past;

Did you ever windsurf?

Did you ever surf Jaws?

But as Robert mentioned it's best for ESLs/EFLs to stay with the PP for these types of examples.
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