The basic unit of English grammar is the clause:

[An unlucky student almost lost a 17th century violin worth almost £200,000]

[when he left it in the waiting room of a London station.]

[William Brown inherited the 1698 Stradivarius violin from his mother]

[and had just had it valued by a London dealer at £180,000.]

Clauses are made up of phrases:

[An unlucky student] + [almost lost] + [a 17th century violin worth almost £200,000]

[when] + [he] + [left] + [it] + [in the waiting room of a London station.]

[William Brown] + [inherited] + [the 1698 Stradivarius violin] + [from his mother]

[and] [had just had it valued] + [by a London dealer] + [at £180,000.]

We can join two or more clauses together to make sentences.

An unlucky student almost lost a 17th century violin worth almost £200,000 when he left it in the waiting room of a London station.

William Brown inherited the 1698 Stradivarius violin from his mother and had just had it valued by a London dealer at £180,000.


 

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Comments

Hello nkmg,

The sentences

It is easy to monitor the activities being preformed
Majority work well when the decision being made affect large numbers of people

are an example of 2(c) 'be' + a past participle [a passive form]. 'be' happens to be in the continuous, but since it is followed by a past participle in both cases, it is still the same passive form.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello LearningEnlgish team,

Is there any change to simplify past perfect to past simple and have the same meaning in the sentence: ''I would take the thing and then you would take the thing I had taken?'' For example,

''I took/ had taken my keys before you came home''

Using past perfect in the sentence above, we just emphasize the action happening before coming, but past perfect isn't necessary here since it's very clear. Therefore, past simple is perfectly fine.

Thanks.

Hello JakiGeh,

The past perfect is more emphatic, but the past simple is also possible and quite clear, as you say. Good work!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

Jane asked, ''Did you take the candy, John?''
''No,'' he replied. ''Why would I take it?''

If taking is in the past, shouldn't John say ''why would I have taken it?''
I often find this kind of construction.

Dave said, ''One of these days. the phone's gonna ring (and) I'll pick it up (and) she'll talk and she'll tell why she left''

Can future simple be used like present simple when actions are one after another (just in the future of course)?

Thank you

Hello MCWSL,

Both 'would' and 'would have' are possible here. 'Why would I take it?' has a general meaning, referencing the speaker's typical or normal behaviour. 'Why would I have taken it?' describes one particular instance.

This kind of reference to the general is not unusual in moral quandries. It has a sense of 'I'm not that kind of person'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

'I wouldn't want somebody tracing my steps and pointing out all the mistakes I was making'

The past continuous is referring to 'tracing my steps' as the mistakes were being made, but the sentence itself is imaginary, which means no one traces and points anything. So how come past continuous is used when it says that 'making mistakes' really happened? For example,
'It'd be strange to see what George played'

In the sentence, George did play in the past and it really happened.

In order to say it hasn't happened yet, I would use present simple which would mean something in general. But I believe past perfect could mean that 'playing' and 'making' haven't happened too in the first and second sentence since it's used in unreal situations.

'It'd be strange to see what George'd played'

'I wouldn't ... and pointing out all the mistakes I'd been making'

Thank you

Hello JamlMakav,

I think you are over-complicating the example here and trying to impose a rule which does not exist with regard to real and imaginary actions.

The construction here is:

(not) want someone to do something

 

It is possible to use a simple or continuous infinitive. The continuous infinitive emphasises the ongoing and repeated nature of the action:

I wouldn't want somebody to trace my steps and to point out all the mistakes I was making.

I wouldn't want somebody to be tracing my steps and to be pointing out all the mistakes I was making

The past continuous is used because in the situation described the tracing and pointing out happens while the mistakes are being made. It is similar to other sentences where two past continuous forms are used to show silultaneous actions.

It was raining while we were talking.

There is no need to overcomplicate this with misapplied rules about real and unreal.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,

Thank you for the explanation. I rewrote my sentence and question to show what I'd like to ask. So my question is why 'was making' is used instead of 'had been making?'

The sentence is an unreal reduced present or future conditional without if clause, so no one traces or points anything as the first participle phrase describing 'somebody' happen at once as the main verb, which is 'would want' and the second also describing the pronoun happens after.

But past continuous is used that says 'I' makes mistakes while 'somebody' traces his steps(which doesn't happen) and then after points the mistakes(which doesn't happen too)
That's why I think past perfect continuous should be used instead because it says that making mistakes doesn't happen, which is true.

'I wouldn't want somebody tracing my steps and then pointing out all the mistakes I was making/ had been making'

Thank you

Hello JamiMakav,

The unreal meaning only relates to whether or not the speaker wants something, not to the actions of the person described. For example:

I wouldn't want a man who argues a lot as a workmate.

The 'wouldn't want' here tells us that we are talking hypothetically and there is an implied if-clause ('if I had to choose'), but this does not affect the description of the man in the clause. It is possible to use a past form ('argued'), which would emphasise that there is no such man and we are purely in the realm of fantasy, but a present form is fine also, and tells us that there are such people in the real world, and they are not the kind of people I would want.

You example is similar, and you can use either 'was making' or 'had been making':

I wouldn't want somebody tracing my steps and then pointing out all the mistakes I was making.

The meaning here is that the person points out the mistakes as you make them.

I wouldn't want somebody tracing my steps and then pointing out all the mistakes I had been making.

The meaning here is that the person points out the mistakes after you have made them.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

I'm writing a personal statement for higher education and I just have some questions.

''I remember the time when I was not paying much attention to schooling. Since I had no least comprehension of it, I...''

I want to emphasize that I didn't have any understanding of education. Is it correct to use ''no'' and ''least'' adjacently?

''Listening to music, I wrote several of my projects such as an equation, binary tree, and combination program''

Is it all right if I describe the plural noun using the singular noun?

''Having such outlook and being sophisticated would help me adjust to the university life easier and achieve success in my studies. In terms of them, I chose to study in the UK...''

Is ''Is in term of'' phrase used properly here?

Thank you very much.

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