A Plaintive Query

Doesn’t anybody know how to use the past perfect any more?

(I’m reading slush these days, along with everything else.  All aspiring writers should do some slush reading if they get the chance.  It’s an enlightening experience, and far more entertaining than, say, grading freshman essays, which I’ve also done in my time.  Even the worst slush in the world was written by somebody who actively wanted to be putting words on paper, or pixels on screen; even the very best freshman essays, on the other hand, have a certain forced, gun-to-the-temple quality about them.  Also, when you’re reading slush, once you get to the point where you’re convinced that a piece is hopeless, you can stop.  With freshman essays, there’s no such release.)

3 thoughts on “A Plaintive Query

  1. *raises hand*

    It’s not even that HARD.

    Though I’ll admit my mother had been an English teacher before I was born, and she drilled me on grammar in a way my own teachers never did. The reforms of the 1970s were a sad, sad thing for the English language.

    Now, if only I had a truly fluent grip on the subjunctive.

    I’ve been beta-reading for friends. Wonderful storytellers, some of them, but none of them seem to have learned how to avoid the comma splice.

  2. I’m using an editing program (just as a first line defense against totally making a fool of myself – no substitute for the real thing, at all) that keeps telling me I’m using a squinting modifier – it could modify either part of my sentence. I’d never heard of a squinting modifier- dangling OK, but squinting. Heaven forbid, this grammar channel has been mined.

  3. The past perfect is surprisingly little known. Many decades ago one of my French essays was red-pencilled with “mixed tenses” when I used it. Once my French Master had the construction explained he accepted it; however I was very surprised he was not already aware.

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