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the difference between perfect and pluperfect?

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the difference between perfect and pluperfect?

Postby solitario » Tue Jan 27, 2004 7:56 am

SALVETE OMNES!
I'm up to chapter 12 right now and it looks like Latin is just splitting hairs here...
So what is the difference between I have praised (perfect) and I had praised (pluperfect)?
Would it depend on the rest of the sentence? Like I have praised Apollo in the past, and I might continue to do so, vs, I had praised Apollo until I found out Jupiter was stronger?

How did I do with this:
Vōs nōbīs voluptātibus adūlēscentiae tum scrīpsistis.
You have then written to us about the pleasures of the young woman.
I think I might be way off.

MVLTAS GRATIAS!
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Postby benissimus » Tue Jan 27, 2004 8:29 am

No, it's not splitting hairs at all, Pluperfect events precede events in the Perfect and (usually) Imperfect.

Perfect is an action that is done in relation to our Present time. E.g. "I have closed the door"... the action of closing that door is completely over. In most cases, you just translate the Perfect as a simple past - i.e. "Vōs nōbīs de voluptātibus adūlēscentiae tum scrīpsistis." = "You then wrote to us about the pleasures of youth". You could say "You have then written..." but that doesn't sound good in English.

Pluperfect is an action that is done in relation to the past (Imperfect), and precedes even the Perfect. You do translate it simply with "had" instead of "have", but you can see the relationship when you put the tenses together in a single sentence. E.g. "I had been walking (pluperfect) on the street when I came (perfect) across a cat" or "I was petting the cat (imperfect) after I had found (pluperfect) it". Excusing my lack of creativity, you can see how actions in difference tenses precede one another, unless I haven't explained it well.

The Imperfect, Present, and Future (Primary Tenses) divide all of time into three parts. The Pluperfect, Perfect, and Future Perfect take up only the space between the main tenses. Primary tenses are just simple statements, Perfect tenses are complete in respect to their corresponding Primary tense.
Last edited by benissimus on Tue Jan 27, 2004 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby solitario » Tue Jan 27, 2004 8:52 am

Multas gratias benissimus. Once again you have made things clear.
I hadn't thought of these tenses in order of precedence.
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Postby klewlis » Tue Jan 27, 2004 2:27 pm

actually, "you have written" is perfectly good english, and I very often translate the perfects this way so that I can distinguish them in translation from the imperfects. I also see a significant semantic difference between "you have written" and "you wrote" in english. :)
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Postby benissimus » Tue Jan 27, 2004 5:23 pm

I meant "You then/at that time have written..." It just sounds odd to me, do you think so?
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Postby klewlis » Tue Jan 27, 2004 5:37 pm

hm... yeah I guess that does seem weird in english because the tenses don't match.... we'd say "at this time" instead...
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Postby Ulpianus » Wed Jan 28, 2004 9:50 pm

Another way of looking at it is in terms of frames of reference.

If we take our frame of reference as "now" we have what is happening (present), what has happened (perfect) and what will happen (future).

If we take our frame of reference as "then, in the past" we have what was happening then (perfect/imperfect) and what had already happened then (pluperfect).

If we take our frame of reference as "then, in the future" we have what will be happening then (future) and what will already have happened then (future perfect).

English is almost richer in nuance: I do it; I did it; I have done it; I had done it; I will do it; I will have done it; etc. As I understand it the perfect in Latin covers both "did" and "have done". I often find it hard to choose which to use, and I'm not sure there's any clear guide other than context to help one.
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