Sabrina
How to understand these two sentences? He had hardly had time to settle down when he sold the house and left the country. He had hardly finished the article when the light went out. How to understand these two sentences?
May 13, 2011 2:42 PM
Answers · 7
OK compare the following: A: Have you settled in yet? B: No I've hardly had the time to settle in. This conversation is relative to NOW. We can make it relative to the PAST, e.g. when he sold the house. Now it becomes: A: When he sold the house, had he already settled in? B: No. He had hardly had the time to settle in. The second one is similar, but the use of "hardly" is different. The others have already explained the meaning. I've nothing to add.
May 13, 2011
These two sentences are correct, but people don't usually speak this way, and they don't usually write this way. The writing style is advanced. There are two things that may be difficult to understand in these two sentences. First: the word "hardly" (adverb..describes a verb). Hardly means "only just", for example: We had hardly (We had just or We had only just) reached the lake when it started raining. (Sabrina...There are other meanings of the word "hardly", but I will not discuss them in this answer.) Second: Both sentences are made up of two clauses (clause = a subject and a verb - like a sentence) and the two caluses are joined together by using the word "when". [He had hardly had time to settle down] when [he sold the house and left the country]. [He had hardly finished the article] when [the light went out]. If we use the word "then" instead of "when" the sentences would be: He had hardly had time to settle down THEN he sold the house and left the country. He had hardly finished the article THEN the light went out. In both sentences: The first verb tense, in the first clause, is called the Past Perfect tense (had had) and (had finished). The second verb tense is the Simple Past tense (sold) and (went out). The grammar rule says that when the sentence has two clauses, and the fist clause uses the Past Perfect tense, then the second clause will use the Simple Past tense. Jpellowe's explanation and examples are great. She said "Not much time had passed between the two events [the two clauses/the two actions]. The word "hardly" tells us that the time between the two actions/two events/two clauses was short. I will now write the two sentences in the most simple way: He had hardly had time to settle down when he sold the house and left the country. HE BOUGHT A HOUSE, HE WANTED TO SETTLE DOWN (become comfortable) IN THE HOUSE, THEN HE (suddenly/quickly) SOLD THE HOUSE. He had hardly finished the article when the light went out. HE JUST FINISHED THE ARTICLE, THEN THE LIGHT WENT OUT (was turned off/lost electrical power). I hope this long answer helps you understand these uncommon sentences.
May 13, 2011
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May 13, 2011
Understand them as exactly what they mean. Next time coming up with a question, specify which part you don't get.
May 14, 2011
Not much time had passed between the two events. 1. The man bought a house and didn't even live in it long enough to feel at home there before he sold it again and moved away. 2. The man had just finished reading the article and then the lights went out.
May 13, 2011
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Sabrina
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English
Learning Language
English