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had read it before Options
navi
Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2019 2:37:03 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 5/16/2014
Posts: 399
Neurons: 3,740
Did he have the necessary information to understand the lecture?

1) He said he read the relevant material before coming.
2) He said he had read the relevant material before coming.

3) He said he read the relevant material before.
4) He said he had read the relevant material before.

I see three possibilities here:
a) He read the relevant material a short time before the lecture in preparation for it
b) He read the relevant material a short time before the lecture but not in preparation for it
c) He read the relevant material a long time before the lecture

Which of the sentences 1-4 correspond to which of the cases a-c?

Gratefully,
Navi
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2019 10:03:02 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 32,551
Neurons: 199,178
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
A difficult question - on first look, I think some of them can mean two of the options.
They are rather 'fine' distinctions, and could vary depending on circumstances, and even tone of voice.

1) He said he read the relevant material before coming.
a) (maybe b) He read the relevant material a short time before the lecture, probably in preparation for it.

2) He said he had read the relevant material before coming.
a) (maybe b) He read the relevant material a short time before the lecture, very probably in preparation for it.

3) He said he read the relevant material before.
c) He read the relevant material a long time before the lecture - but it may have been a short time before. This is not a very likely statement, as it is very uninformative. There is no indication that he remembers anything more than just reading it. There is no connection between the two facts - he read it at some time in the past, and he needs to know it.

4) He said he had read the relevant material before.
Sort of c) He read the relevant material but not just before the lecture.
The use of the perfect aspect connects the two past times (when he read the material, and when he said he had). This gives me the impression that he felt (when he spoke) that he understood the materials and didn't need to read them again.

The most likely answers to the question "Does he understand the data he needs to understand the lecture?" would be:
1) if he just arrived, and had read the material in preparation.
2) if he came yesterday (or at least not 'just now'), and had read the material in preparation.
4) If he had read the material earlier (not just before coming) and felt he knew the data.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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