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Question on The Past Perfect Tense

 

Hi,

I want to know whether we can use the past perfect tense to save own skin when you are taking to somebody about something that you got to know another person.

e.g.: Let's say that I meet a friend on my way to work. She asks me about another friend (Alex) who went abroad. In this scenario, can I use the past perfect tense to talk about Alex, since I got the information about him from his mother. Can I say the following:

Alex's mother told me the whole story when I met her at the railway station. Alex had met with an accident there. He had been injured badly. His friends there had taken him to the hospital.

Is it wrong to use the present perfect in this scenario?


Regards
Niwantha

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language

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    Best Answer - Chosen by Voting
    Hi Niwantha, just to add ... I don't see why you can't use the past perfect here - it is quite common with reported speech verbs. If Alex's mother's direct speech was 'Hi Niwantha, Alex has had an accident. He's been badly injured and his friends have taken him to hospital' then reported speech could be as you suggest: 'Alex's mother told me that Alex had had an accident and that he had been badly injured and taken to hospital by his friends' :)

     

    Past perfect is used for a past action that took place before another past action or before a specific moment in the past. You don't really have that here. I would say: "Alex had an accident there. He was badly injured and his friends took him to the hospital".

     

    I'm not sure what you mean by "save your own skin". Would you get in trouble for reporting Alex's accident?

    Given the context, there's not much reason to use past perfect. Just report the events in past simple.

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