following sentence has been giving me a headache for weeks now.
Could you please give me the correct answer and justify it as well?
When was the last time you had eaten / ate in this restaurant?
~ Two weeks ago.
Chan from Hong Kong writes:
reported speech, do we have to change the past simple into
the past perfect?
your example Niki, it has to be the past simple tense:
was the last time you ate in this restaurant? ~ Two weeks
past simple is used to refer to finished periods or moments of time.
It refers to a definite past. Thus, it is often used with time adverbials
such as last night, some time ago, in 1985, earlier today, at
six o clock this morning, the last time, the first time,
etc. Compare the following:
first time I ate caviare was in Moscow twenty years
ago and the last time was at Helen's a week last Thursday.
bought this house when we moved to London in 1996
and extended it at the back last year.
did you last speak to your father? ~ I spoke
to him on the phone this morning.
examples may not mention a particular time in the past, but it is
clear that the speaker is thinking of a definite time in the past:
did you get those coffee tables? ~ I got
them from the antique furniture shop in the High Street.
past simple can also be used to refer to repeated events
in the past or to express a past state or habit:
spent all my childhood in Cornwall. When I was very
small, we lived in a small house by the sea and I played
every day on the beach in the summer holidays.
use the past perfect when we are already discussing the past and
want to refer back to an earlier period in time. Compare the following:
I entered, I remembered that I had eaten
in this restaurant twice before.
phoned her to see if she wanted a lift, but she
had already left.
perfect and indirect speech
The past perfect is very common in reported speech,
Michael, when we want to talk about things that had happened before
the saying or the thinking took place:
I suddenly realised that we had
I asked them if they had been
to this part of America before.
I thought I had renewed my
subscription to the National Geographic magazine, but they informed
me that I hadn't.
In all of these examples, the original direct speech equivalent
would use the present perfect:
"We've met before, haven't we?"
"Have you been to this part of America
"You haven't yet renewed your subscription
to the National Geographic."
The normal shift then in reported speech is one tense back: present
perfect becomes past perfect. But when the original utterance
is in the past simple, we sometimes retain the past simple
in reported speech as an alternative to the past perfect. Either
past simple or past perfect is quite acceptable
in these examples as it is not so important to show the relationship
between the events being spoken about and the original speech:
"Alice phoned while you were
in the bath".
She told me that Alice hadphoned
while I was in the bath.
She told me Alice phoned while I was
in the bath.
"It's all over now but we enjoyed
our trip to South Korea and Japan enormously".
They reported that they had enjoyed
their trip to South Korea and Japan enormously.
They reported that they enjoyed their
trip to South Korea and Japan enormously.
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