Monday, December 22, 2008

Past Perfect

‘A light fixture had fallen from the ceiling at Tampines Safra last Thursday’ (The New Paper, 25 November 2008).

Wrong use of the past perfect: make it fell (simple past).

In Singapore newspapers this is a very common error, one presumably due to a misunderstanding of the notion of ‘remote past’. In Standard English, the past perfect is used when referring to the earlier of two past events, but many Singaporeans (e.g. the media, teachers, students) evidently believe that it is used with any event that took place ‘a long time ago’ (e.g. last week, seven years ago).

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