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Past Simple or Past Perfect in the SINCE subordinate clause?

Hello, could anybody help and give some ideas. I would like to find out what tense we use in the subordinate clause with since. Are the following sentences are grammatically and logically correct?

  1. […] We regretted that we hadn’t brought tinned food. My sister Jessica had been looking for fresh water since we came, but she had lost her way. We had been searching for her for an hour until we found her under the tree […]
  2. She had been participating in the programme ever since it started, but last week she quitted.
  3. The situation was chaotic. Parents had been withdrawing their children from schools since the epidemic began.
  4. I couldn’t wait longer. It had been a whole two hours since he texted me.
  5. She was tired. She had been travelling to the city every day since she moved / had moved to the village.

Thank you.

Comments

  • DavidCrosbieDavidCrosbie ✭✭✭

    @irmantasgn, I think you're approaching the task from the wrong direction. The functions of the PAST SIMPLE and PAST PERFECT are not primarily to relate events in time relative to each other. In continuous speech or writing the task is to refer events in time relative to a reference point.

    Text 1.
    In the opening sentence the reference point has presumably been established in previous sentences. The reader knows the time and place — i.e. it's a reference point.

    Relative to that time
    * you simultaneously felt sorry (I wouldn;t use the word regret here). Hence PAST SIMPLE
    * you failed previously to bring tinned food. Hence PAST PERFECT

    The second sentence doesn't follow from the first. There's no sign that you're relating things to the same reference point.
    As a reader, my response to
    My sister Jessica had been looking for fresh water
    and
    she had lost her way
    is
    Before when?

    One way of repairing the damage is to re-establish the reference point. For example:

    To add to our troubles, my sister Jessica was missing ...

    This would allow you to use PAST PERFECT, but I'm not happy with the PROGRESSIVE.
    It would sound natural in a context such as

    Jessica finally came back. She had been looking for fresh water and had lost her way.
    or
    We finally found Jessica under a _(not _the
    ) tree after searching for an hour. She had been ...

    Both solutions introduce a new reference point in the narrative. If you want to stick to the initial reference point, you nee to write something like

    We would later learn that she had been looking for fresh water and had lost her way.

    But you want to express a starting time for Jessica's searching. I don't think a since clause is an appropriate way to do this. You could write

    To add to our troubles, my sister Jessica was missing. She had set out to look for fresh water when we first arrived, but she had lost her way.

    The third sentence is ruined by the word until. This is very tricky to use. One way to look at it is that it relates two reference points. So it's OK and natural to write

    We searched for an hour until we found her

    [OK, the term point doesn't quite fit here. Let's say that until refers one reference time period to a new reference point in time.]

    So le't substitute when

    We had been searching for her for an hour when we found her sitting under a tree

    This is grammatical, but the new reference point is strange. How does it relate to the intitlal starting point — the time when you were feeling sorry for your situation? At that time had you already started looking for Jessica? Had you even found her by then?

    Somehow you need to signal a new reference time. For example

    We became worried and decided to make a search. It was far from easy. We had been searching for an hour when we found her sitting under a tree.

    But what about your first concern, the use of since?

    The problem is that you have PAST PERFECT PROGRESSIVE in the main clause. We normally use this

    • for a recent activity
      or

    • for an activity that is still in progress

    So you could write:

    At first we were not worried about my sister Jessica. She had been looking for fresh water

    Logically, you could express the starting point with a since clause. But stylistically I much prefer ever since.

    Ever since we arrived, she had been looking for fresh water.

    Here the reference point is when you were feeling sorry about the food but not worried about Jessica. But this won't do for Jessica getting lost. Some solutions:

    We didn't realise that she had lost her way (same reference point)
    Eventually we learned that she had lost her way (new reference point)

    I'll post later about texts 2–5.

  • Thank you David. I thought that it is important to relate events in time relative to each other using these tenses. I will bear in mind your explanation. Thank you.

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