Would anybody tell me what the tense of the following sentence is? And the reason why that tense is used?
They’d been married for twenty years.
Thanks in advance.
“They had been married for twenty years”. First of all, had is past tense, the present tense is have (has for other cases), “They have been married for twenty years”.
There’s two good reasons for using past tense here.
- If the narration enclosing the sentence is already past tense – if someone is relating information about something before, such as something like:
“Bob had gone to the diner for lunch that day. His friend Sam had been there, with his wife. They’d been married for twenty years. Still went to the same diner after all this time.”
So, they're still married, just the information itself was given in past tense.
- The fact itself was past tense. In this example, the twenty year marriage was no longer ‘live’ – either they had had a divorce after twenty years, or the people themselves were no longer alive to be considered married.