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Question I had been living in Tokyo for three years when I was a child.

hirashin

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Dear native English speakers,
which sentences can be used ?
(a) I lived in Tokyo for three years when I was a child.
(b) I had lived in Tokyo for three years when I was a child.
(c) I had been living in Tokyo for three years when I was a child.
(d) I lived in Tokyo for three years when I was ten.
(e) I had lived in Tokyo for three years when I was ten.
(f) I had been living in Tokyo for three years when I was ten.
 

mdchachi

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Dear native English speakers,
which sentences can be used ?
(a) I lived in Tokyo for three years when I was a child.
(b) I had lived in Tokyo for three years when I was a child.
(c) I had been living in Tokyo for three years when I was a child.
(d) I lived in Tokyo for three years when I was ten.
(e) I had lived in Tokyo for three years when I was ten.
(f) I had been living in Tokyo for three years when I was ten.
a - Perfect
b - ok but not the natural choice for this example
c - maybe ok but doesn't sound natural. If it was "when <some event>" then it would sound natural.
d - doesn't make sense, you aren't ten for three years
e - doesn't make sense, you aren't ten for three years
f - Ok. Better to say "I had been living in Tokyo for three years when I turned ten."
 

Lothor

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Thanks for the help, mdchachi.
Minor differences in opinion to mdchachi - I think b is wrong, there is no reason to use past perfect tense. I also think that f is OK as is.
 

hirashin

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Thanks for the help, Lothor.

Another British person in another site said:
d to f are incorrect as you can't be ten years old throughout the three years! c is wrong. b is ok when you go on to say something in the simple past that happened afterwards. a is a simple statement. So only a and b are correct.

And an American person said:
On its own, only sentence (a) is correct.
Sentence (b) could be correct in the right context, but it can't stand by itself ("had lived" is used when you are contrasting two time periods, but there is only one in the sentence).
Sentences (d) and (e) are grammatically the same as (a) and (b), but they don't make sense because they imply that you were ten for three years.
Sentences (c) and (f) are not right because if you use "had been living", the other half of the sentence needs to be an event (for example, "I had been living in Tokyo for three years when the big earthquake hit").

What do you think?
 

Lothor

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I'm still happy with f and could imagine in an autobiography, though slightly prefer it the other way around.

When I was 10, I had been living in Hong Kong for 3 years. But because of the expatriate bubble my parents lived in and the international school that I went to, I had no Chinese friends.
 

Michael2

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The problem Hirashin, is that past perfect sentences depend entirely on context, by definition. I can think of situations where all of them would make sense, with more phrases or sentences surrounding them, even D.
 

Lothor

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Maybe we should set the rule that we say a sentence is wrong if it needs more context to be meaningful. Hirashin's students aren't going to face many sentences that are grammatically correct but lack context.
 
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