Had met/have met before.

Which is correct, "Had met before" or "have met before", in the following context: 

  • Hey mom, Today, I met a man named Sunil Das. He said he knew me and he said many things about me that were true. But I can't remember if I had met him/have met him before.
Original Post

Can anyone who Is a teacher or has good knowledge of the language please answer this?

Subhajit, I don't think you need to make this kind of clarification on GE. Should any member kindly answer your question in any way any of us (David, DocV or myself) finds unsatisfactory, you can rest assured we will let you know. Being an official contributor here, I also submit to the authority of David and DocV who, being highly educated native speakers, will always have the last word. That does not mean that I will not endeavor to answer any questions, like this one here, to the best of my knowledge.

I can't remember if I had met him/have met him before.

I think both tenses are possible. Considering the speaker met that person today, the past perfect would be appropriate to express past before past (I can't remember if I had met him any day before today). However, we can also regard this as a life experience, mainly because of the present modal "can," in which case the present perfect would be suitable.

Now, because of the identity of subject in both the main and the subordinate clauses, I'd choose the gerund, which renders the concept of anteriority and avoids the repetition of the subject:

  • I can't remember meeting him before. (meeting = having met)
subhajit123 posted:

No No That does not what I meant to say. Sorry if I have hurt your feelings or you have felt insulted. Please Please forgive me. 😃

Take it easy, you have not hurt my feelings. I just wanted to make clear that that kind of comments could stop other members from trying to answer your questions, and that in the event that such answers were incorrect or inaccurate there would always be somebody more knowledgeable to make them right.

Gustavo, Contributor posted:

Subhajit, I don't think you need to make this kind of clarification on GE.

I'm glad you commented on this, Gustavo. I share your sentiments completely. Subhajit, if you continue to make such totally unnecessary "clarifications" in the future, please expect them to be edited out. I will delete them without hesitation.

Gustavo, Contributor posted:
I think both tenses are possible. Considering the speaker met that person today, the past perfect would be appropriate to express past before past (I can't remember if I had met him any day before today). However, we can also regard this as a life experience, mainly because of the present modal "can," in which case the present perfect would be suitable.

I agree that both tenses are possible in this and similar contexts, where the speaker is talking about an experience in the very recent past which he believes himself to have had for possibly the first time. Generally, native speakers use the present perfect in these cases, though the past perfect is of course justifiable.

For example, if I am listening to a song for the first time, I may naturally and legitimately say, "I haven't heard this song before." Even after the song has finished playing, however, I may still naturally and legitimately use the present perfect perfect: "I haven't heard that song before."

Of course, it is possible and justifiable to use the past perfect in that context: "I hadn't heard that song before." I heard it a minute ago, and I hadn't heard it before that. The important thing to understand is that it is not necessary for the past perfect to replace the present perfect in such contexts.

subhajit123 posted:
  • Hey mom, Today, I met a man named Sunil Das. He said he knew me and he said many things about me that were true. But I can't remember if I had met him/have met him before.

This context is much like the one I just described, even if more than one minute has elapsed. The point is that the experience is fresh; the time that is really under discussion is the present. That it occurred a number of hours ago is a technicality that doesn't govern the choice of tense. We are talking about today ("now").

To make the past perfect natural here, I would change "can't remember" to "couldn't remember," so that the remembering of which you speak is itself located in the past. Indeed, with "couldn't remember," the present perfect would be incorrect.

  • I couldn't remember if I had met him before.

Hello, I think I should not have written the last paragraph. I think I unintentionally have hurt Guastavo's feelings. David, Hello teacher please forgive me for this.

 

Now here is a similar context I have given below. Please someone answer this.

"Have never seen or "Had never seen": Which one is correct in the following context? If they are both correct then which one would you prefer?

  • John, Did you see the match between Liverpool and Chelsea yesterday? What a beautiful match it was! It was the best match I have ever seen. I have never seen/had never seen a match like that before.

 

 

subhajit123 posted:

"Have never seen or "Had never seen": Which one is correct in the following context? If they are both correct then which one would you prefer?

  • John, Did you see the match between Liverpool and Chelsea yesterday? What a beautiful match it was! It was the best match I have ever seen. I have never seen/had never seen a match like that before.

Both choices are unnatural in that context, Subhajit, because the last sentence is redundant; it communicates nothing that the second to last sentence has not already communicated.

However, if you deleted "It was the best match I have ever seen," then you could use either "I have never seen a match like that before" (present perfect) or "I had never seen a match like that before" (past perfect).

Again, you are talking about an experience that is still fresh, even though it is in the recent past. There is no need to emphasize that the recent experience was in the past by using the past perfect, though it is also acceptable to do so.

If you are seeking a precise dividing line (a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, etc.) for using the present perfect and the past perfect in sentences such as these, a precise dividing line does not exist. The boundary is fuzzy.

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