Saturday, 24 March 2012

Tell Me, Had You Forgotten To Call Before Leaving?


SCENARIO
Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague. You are going over some past events. Perhaps the sequence of some actions is not clear. At some point, the other person may say to you something like: "tell me, had you forgotten to call before leaving?".

In Spanish, he/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿habías olvidado llamar antes de salir?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿había olvidado (usted) llamar antes de salir?


OUR TIP
The question is an invitation for you to talk about something you had/ had not done in the past. When saying what you had/ had not done in the past, you DO NOT need to be concerned about the level of formality in the other person's question. Your main concern should be about communicating what you had/ had not done. Perhaps you want to say that you:
  • Had done something before a specific event or action.
  • Had done something before a specific point in time.
  • Had done something.
  • Had not done anything.
  • Had not done something before a specific event or action.
  • Had not done something before a specific point in time.
  • Had not done something.

Here are some examples of how you would say what you had/ had not done:
  • Había olvidado llamar antes de salir* (I had forgotten to call before leaving).
  • Había olvidado llamar antes de la una* (I had forgotten to call before one o'clock).
  • Había olvidado llamar* (I had forgotten to call).
  • No había olvidado nada* (I had not forgotten anything).
  • No había olvidado llamar antes de salir* (I had not forgotten to call before leaving).
  • No había olvidado llamar antes de la una* (I had not forgotten to call before one o'clock).
  • No había olvidado llamar* (I had not forgotten to call).

Now you should practice talking about the past to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿habías olvidado llamar antes de salir?

*Please see grammar below

Grammar-The Pluperfect
These are examples of expressions using the pluperfect to talk about past completed actions. Remember that in Spanish the pluperfect is used in a similar way to its counterpart in English. That is, the pluperfect defines past actions which occurred before some other past actions or some time reference point. Some examples of the use of the perfect are:
  • Yo no había estado en Manila antes de conocerte (I had never been in Manila before meeting you).
  • ¿Habías ido a ver a tus padres antes de salir? (had you gone to see your parents before your departure?).
  • Eran las tres y Pedro no había llamado (it was three o'clock and Pedro had not called).
  • Ya habíamos ido a Nueva York cuando te vimos (we had already gone to New York when we saw you).
  • ¿Habíais llegado de Barcelona cuando llamásteis? (had you -plural arrived from Barcelona when you called?).
  • Tus padres no me habían escrito antes de hoy (your parents had not written to me before today).

Now you should practice using the pluperfect with some examples of your own.



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