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Help with the Past Perfect please

English translation: Your version is fine, and the "had disappeared to" is just right!

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18:18 Feb 19, 2005
English to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature / children's literature
English term or phrase: Help with the Past Perfect please
“Seize ‘em!” ordered Glavo, but at that very moment the gnomes vanished. Death Bringer was the only one to see where they had disappeared to. The Door on the top of the rock had opened and closed again, and everything was now plunged in darkness.


Dear native English speakers!
Please advise if I need any Perfect tense here. The thread of events is kind of retrospective, that's why I think I should use Past Perfect.

Here are the events as they actually happened, one after another:
Event 1: the Door openes
Event 2: the gnomes vanish using the Door
Event 3: the door closes
Death Bringer happens to see all three events.

Please advise where it's better to use Past Perfect, and where Simple Past, for I'm a bit confused here.

Thank you!

P.S. This is my translation from English.
Andrew Vdovin
Local time: 18:57
English translation:Your version is fine, and the "had disappeared to" is just right!
Explanation:
The only thing I'd change would be "on top of the rock", omitting the first of your definite articles.
Selected response from:

David Knowles
Local time: 12:57
Grading comment
Lots of thanks for your help, David! And thanks to everyone!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +10Your version is fine, and the "had disappeared to" is just right!
David Knowles
4 +4NFG: Further comments.
Richard Benham
4 -3see commentInna Sabia
3 -2Simple Past
Kirill Semenov


Discussion entries: 4





  

Answers


7 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): -2
Simple Past


Explanation:
A lot of events, just put it in the simple past:

Death Bringer was the only one to see where they disappeared to. The Door on the top of the rock opened and closed again, and everything was now plunged in darkness.

Kirill Semenov
Ukraine
Local time: 14:57
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in RussianRussian
PRO pts in category: 118

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  Richard Benham: No. This completely obscures the sequence of events.//I only disagreed with the simple past. The other answer I disagreed with was about prepositional use. Feel free to comment on my answer.
40 mins
  -> Thank you very much ;-)

disagree  Refugio: the past perfect is necessary
3 hrs
  -> I think I was confused by "at that moment". So I thought everything was happening at the same time. Now I see that it's "at that very moment" :)
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10 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +10
Your version is fine, and the "had disappeared to" is just right!


Explanation:
The only thing I'd change would be "on top of the rock", omitting the first of your definite articles.

David Knowles
Local time: 12:57
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 72
Grading comment
Lots of thanks for your help, David! And thanks to everyone!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Mikhail Kropotov: yup!
6 mins

agree  Nik-On/Off: David, could you explain why the first definite article is not needed?
35 mins
  -> "on top of" is a fixed phrase, like the obsolescent "atop". "on the top of" is a description. A subtle difference!

agree  Richard Benham: I would rather say "the door at the top of the rock"; "on top of the rock" suggests that someone has just plunked an old door onto the rock--not that there's actually a functional door there.//Caught! I didn't think my 2 weeks in the US would show!
36 mins
  -> Strange, but I don't read it this way at all, and "at the top of" sounds awkward. Is this a US/UK difference?

agree  Jack Doughty
52 mins

agree  xxxcmwilliams
54 mins

agree  James Vail: Simple past for "was now in darkness." Past perfect is best for everything that had happened before the final event (everything being plunged into darkness).
2 hrs

agree  Refugio: at the top of the rock // had opened ... yes, past perfect is needed
3 hrs

agree  mstkwasa
5 hrs

agree  paolamonaco
8 hrs

agree  Johan Venter: I spent many hours explaining the dreaded PP to my students back when I was still an ESL teacher and I would've been proud if one of my students had come up with the sentence used here by Andrew. I would only change the preposition to at, as Richard said.
13 hrs
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12 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): -3
see comment


Explanation:
Dear Andrew, my husband, who is a native English speaker, looked at the sentence and thought that the following sentence did not sound right: "Death Bringer was the only one to see where they had disappeared to." It would be better to say "where they went" (Simple past". But definitely not "where they had disappeared to". The use of this verb with the preposition "to" doesn't sound correct in English.

Inna Sabia
Local time: 04:57
Native speaker of: Native in RussianRussian

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Mikhail Kropotov: you are talking about the hanging preposition - that's fine, but why leave out the "disappearing" part?
4 mins

disagree  Richard Benham: "Where they had disappeared to" is fine--the "rule" against ending sentences with a preposition is merely a superstition.
32 mins

disagree  Refugio: Sounds correct to me
3 hrs

disagree  tappi_k: Andrew's sentence is fine as it is.
1 day9 hrs
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +4
help with the past perfect please
NFG: Further comments.


Explanation:
You aksed for an explanation of where to use the simple past tense and where to use past perfect (or pluperfect, as I usually call it).

So this is my explanation. You use the simple past tense for chronologically linear narration of past events. If you want to situate an event outside this linear sequence, further back in the past, you use the pluperfect. Your sequence of tenses is perfectly (even pluperfectly) correct. There is no need to change it.

Another example: "I opened the door, went in, and looked around. Searching the study, I noticed that someone had been there before me."

Amother, rarer, use of the pluperfect is to denote an activity which is finished rapidly, or, more accurately, the result or outcome of this activity. For example: "With the help of our new friends, we had soon erected the tent." In this case, the coming-to-be of the state of affairs "we have erected the tent" is so rapid that it is treated as a single event in the narrative. (In literary French, the Past Anterior would be used. I don't know if that helps. ;-) )

About "the door on the top of the rock": you just *can't* say "the door on top of the rock". That would suggest a door just sitting there (say for example if someone who had an old door he didn't want dumped it there). You could say "at the top of the rock". I can't think of anything better at the moment. Your idea, although awkward, is still better than "on top of the rock".

Don't worry about "disappeared to". It is slightly colloquial, but perfectly grammatical and idiomatic.

Good luck!

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2 hrs 18 mins (2005-02-19 20:36:43 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

On the question of \"on top of\": I still think it\'s no good. Even \"in the top of\" is better.

Richard Benham
France
Local time: 13:57
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 24

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Refugio
2 hrs

agree  mstkwasa: However I am not so sure about "in the top of the rock".
4 hrs
  -> I don't like it much either--I was only saying that, clumsy as it is, it's still better than "on top of the rock".

agree  Marcus Malabad: since this is magical, there's nothing wrong with a "door on top of a rock", is there Richard?
15 hrs
  -> There's nothing wrong with a door's being there, but "on top of" suggests (to me) a door just sitting there, rather than an opening with a functional door. Others seem not to see it that way, but....

agree  tappi_k: and I agree with your reading of "on top of" as well. If it were for any other object in general, "on top of" would have been fine, but for a working door it does sound a little awkward to me, too.
1 day8 hrs
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