"present perfect" vs "past Perfect"

Hi there, should I use 'haven't occurred' or 'hadn't occurred' in the context?

  • Yesterday a tragic bus accident happened in Kolkata. At least 60 people died in the accident. The bus driver was found responsible for the accident. It is not that accidents like this hadn't occurred/haven't occurred before but the number of deaths had never risen/have never risen to that point before.

 

 In the above context which tense I should use?

I think if I use present perfect it mean before now but as the accident happened yesterday I think I should use past perfect.

 

I think in the last sentence "the number of deaths have/had never risen to that point before." I should use past perfect as it implies that before yesterday's accident the number of deaths had never risen to that point. 

If there is anything unnatural in my example, please forgive me. It was my own sentence. Please explain the right tense to use here.

Original Post
subhajit123 posted:
It is not that accidents like this hadn't occurred/haven't occurred before but the number of deaths had never risen/have never risen to that point before.

Hi, Subhajit,

I strongly disagree with Yama here. You need the present perfect in that sentence, in both of the cases: "It is not that accidents like this haven't occurred before, but the number of deaths has never risen so high."

This is news, Subhajit, so the relevance to the present  is undeniable. The fact that the accident has been located in "yesterday" in the text preceding the sentence doesn't affect your ability to use the present perfect in the sentence.

I made three changes to the second independent clause. I added a comma before the beginning of the second independent clause, I changed "have" to "has" ("number" is singular), and I changed "to that point before" to "so high."

Years from now, you might wish to refer back to this accident. If you were to construct a similar sentence, you might begin with "It was not that . . .," and then the past perfect would be in order:

  • It was not that accidents like this hadn't occurred before but the number of deaths had never risen so high.

Subha,

Where David says "years from now", I would take that to mean any substantial elapse of time.  It may be days or months or years.  The longer the time since the event, the more likely I would be to shift the tenses back, but there is no exact cutoff point.

DocV

Thank you. I think I have got your point.

Suppose, since last year no accidents have occured and have not taken as many as 60 lives. can I still use present perfect?

 

  • Last year, a tragic bus accident happened in Kolkata. At least 60 people died in the accident. The bus driver was found responsible for the accident. It is not that accident like this have not occurred before but the number of deaths has never risen so high.

Someone please reply.

  • Last year, a tragic bus accident happened in Kolkata. At least 60 people died in the accident. The bus driver was found responsible for the accident. It is not that accident like this have not occurred before but the number of deaths has never risen so high.

 

Based on David's and DocV's explanations above, you should use the past perfect.

Another inconsistency I find with your paragraph above, Subhajit, is the use of "it is not that." As David suggested, "it was not that" would fit in better there. Besides, considering that that phrase is emphatic, there should be some reason that justifies it. Otherwise, I don't see the point of using it. For example:

  • Last year, a tragic bus accident happened in Kolkata. At least 60 people died in the accident. The bus driver was found responsible for the accident and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. It was not that accidents like this had not occurred before but the number of deaths had never risen so high.

The "it was not that..." structure is useful to introduce the reason why the driver got such a severe punishment, and this was due to the unusually high number of victims.

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