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Tense problem Options
Mr. सिंह
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 7:01:58 AM

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Location: Bhiwāni, Haryana, India
Hi friends,

I want to ask you if the following sentence is correct.

When I reached there, the show had been started for 2 hours.

If wrong, then please tell me the mistake.

Thanks a lot in advance.
Barely literate
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 7:19:41 AM

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The sentence is grammatically okay. But there is another rule in English that as long as the sentence can be written in active voice one must do that.


Thus, I think....



When I reached there, the show had started had been started for 2 hours.
jacobusmaximus
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 8:02:07 AM

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Location: Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
salesh2010 wrote:
The sentence is grammatically okay. But there is another rule in English that as long as the sentence can be written in active voice one must do that.


Thus, I think....



When I reached there, the show had started had been started for 2 hours.


Or,

When I reached there the snow had been falling for two hours.
Mr. सिंह
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 8:18:29 AM

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Location: Bhiwāni, Haryana, India
Thanks Salesh and Jacob

( Salesh main kahna chah rha ki
"jab main wha pahucha tab show 2 ghante se chal rha tha.

Ab kya hoga shi English conversion)
Éowyn
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 8:49:47 AM
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I think the original sentence was correct. It doesn't sound right to me to say "the show had started for two hours." Probably because we usually think of a starting as an isolated event, not one that would continue for two hours. Putting the verb in the simple past, had started, only confirms that the action of starting is now done, finished. So expressing a duration of time in "for two hours" is awkward.

If you wanted to be totally and unquestionably clear, you could say

- the show had been going for two hours
- it had been two hours since the show started

But laddu's original would be understood as well.

Salesh, don't you mean to write "as long as you can write the sentence in active voice"? ;)
It's true that in general, the passive voice is frowned upon, but it should should not be avoided entirely.

blue2
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 8:50:32 AM

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Sorry still not right as far as I'm concerned.

- had started for 2 hours - would indicate that it took 2 hours to start.

If you want the space of time, I'd say

When I got there, the show had been playing for two hours.

If you want to indicated when it started

When I got there, the show had (already) started two hours before.
blue2
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 8:51:49 AM

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Location: Préveza, Epirus, Greece
Ooops, simultaneous posting.
progpen
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 9:54:18 AM

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When I reached there, the show had been playing for two hours.

That doesn't sound horrible, but I still think it can be better.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 10:21:29 AM

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Joined: 9/12/2011
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi - there are two things here:
1. What is correct
2. What sounds 'natural' (natural, to whom, is a different question!)

The original sentence is correct - 'for' indicates something that is true over a period of time.
The show started two hours before.
Ten minutes later it was 'started' ('started' is an adjective here, it is the state the show was in).
Two hours later, the show was still in the state of 'started'.

However, it does not sound very natural to me.

*************
When I reached there, the show had started for 2 hours.

I don't see this as correct.
'Start' as a verb is something that happens in an instant.
"For" indicates something happening over a period.
They don't go together (as blue and Éowyn say).

*************
The most 'natural' to me would be something like:
"When I reached there, the show had started two hours earlier."
"When I reached there, the show had already been going for two hours."
curmudgeonine
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 11:14:31 AM

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Location: Orillia, Ontario, Canada
"When I got there, the show had begun two hours before."
or
"The show began two hours before I arrived"
Bareskin2000
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 11:35:15 AM

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Location: Ramsgate, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
When I reached there the show had started two hours earlier.
omicrom
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 12:27:02 PM

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"...the show had started two hours ago"

does it work?
Mr. सिंह
Posted: Saturday, March 29, 2014 10:38:18 AM

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Joined: 11/28/2013
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Location: Bhiwāni, Haryana, India
Thanks a lot friends,
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Saturday, March 29, 2014 10:47:47 AM

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Joined: 9/12/2011
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
You're welcome laddu.

Hi omicrom.

Take a look at the whole sentence there.
"When I got there, the show had started two hours ago."

This does not make sense because it is the wrong tense - the 'time' is wrong.

Quote:
ago adverb

used in expressions of time with the simple past tense to show how far in the past something happened
two weeks/months/years ago
The letter came a few days ago.
She was here just a minute ago.
Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

If you are speaking from 'now', you can say "The show started two hours ago." but you cannot move that further into the past by changing to the past perfect.
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