before she'd picked up the phone


  1. “She knew it was Steven before she’d picked up the phone.”
    “When they scored that second goal, I knew we’d had it.” – would you kindly provide a link for me to sort the construction out.
  2. “We are lucky to arrive at the station on time. Come to think of it, I’ve left the tickets behind.” – does it sound?
  3. “It’s ten years to the day since we first moved here.” – Could you use ‘to the day’ with a verb other than ‘to be’ eg “It’s approaching/nearing ten years to the day (since) we first met.”? Could you leave out ‘since’?
  1. “to have had it” (“I’ve had it”, “you’ve had it”, “we’ve had it”, etc.) is an idiom meaning “to be defeated/ruined/destroyed/etc.” (or to be faced with that imminent fate). Grammatically it is the present perfect of “to have it”, but “to have it” is not used in this particular idiomatic sense. “we’d had it” = “we had had it” is the past tense of the idiom (or past perfect tense of the notional root “have it”).

  2. This is grammatical English, but “come to think of it” does not seem a very natural way to join these two ideas. Something more contrastive seems called for.

  3. Phrases like “approaching/nearing ten years to the day” are possible, but some of the force of “to the day” is lost. In that sentence you cannot omit “since”.

Very informative indeed, thank you Dozy.
That ‘mix-up’ in tenses (“She knew it [Simple Past]… before she’d picked up [Past Perf]…”, "“When they scored [Simple Past]… , I knew we’d had it[Past Perf].”) – would you enlighten me?..

You may hear both “She knew it was Steven before she picked up the phone” and “She knew it was Steven before she’d picked up the phone”, with little difference in meaning. The grammatical justification for the latter combination of tenses is not very obvious even to native speakers. It may be easiest to consider such uses of past perfect with “after” and “before” as idiomatic.

The other example is different. The effective present tense of the idiom is “we’ve had it”, which describes a present state. The effective past tesne of the idiom is “we’d had it”, which describes a past state.

Not so hazy now, thanks, Dozy.
Back to 2): – “We are lucky to arrive at the station on time.”
– “Now you mention it, I’ve left the tickets behind.”, – does it sound better?

New one: “GOAL- Braga 1-0 Manchester United - Alan (49 mins)
You don’t save these. No nonsense name, no nonsense penalty as Alan steps up and buries a penalty into the roof of the net.” – What was it, that stack of nonsense?

In #2, I did not realise from your original post that the two sentences were spoken by different people. Even so, “come to think of it” and “now you mention it” both seem a bit too mild and matter-of-fact for this situation. Normally one would say “Oh no!” or “Damn it!” or some similar exclamation.

I would hyphenate “no-nonsense”. A “no-nonsense penalty” is a simple and effective one (smash it into the net, basically). “no-nonsense name” appears to be referring to the simplicity and shortness of the name “Alan”. The writer is possibly mentioning this because “Alan” is a well known English-language first name, and might not be expected as a foreign player’s surname.

(Not going to flog it to death), in #2 originally the phrase was uttered by one person, the idea to separate it came about later. Not my best shot obviously.
Still I’m not fresh out of it: 1) “You expected me to claw off the job? No, I’m just circling.” or, “I’m just circling (around). Call me when the dinner’s ready.”
2) “When at Rome…, yes, but it would be funny to expect me going native.”
3) “Meeting new words I feel it apt to toy with them placing them into different environment(s).”
4) “It takes some doing to find your touch in any/whatever field.”
– Would you accept any of these?
Thank you.

  1. I don’t understand this one. What is the situation? What do you mean by “claw off”? What is the connection between the sentences?

  2. “When in Rome…, yes, but it would be funny to expect me to go native.”

  3. “Meeting new words I feel it apt to toy with them, placing them into different environments.” This is quite a flowery sentence (not necessarily in a bad way). “environments” would have to be plural, but it is a slightly unusual choice of word here.

  4. “It takes some doing to find your touch in any/whatever field.” OK; “whatever” feels informal in this sentence.

Thanks, Dozy.
2) My memory failed me.

  1. Some delay with a reply, soon to follow though.

To 1): “claw off” was used meaning ‘claw your way out of something/to something/back etc’ (to reach a particular place, situation, or state, as a result of great effort or despite great difficulties or opposition) which I’m sure I came across repeatedly in match reports (“claw off victory/result”).
Too bad can’t provide it right now but as soon as…-- I promise.
“Circling” was used to mean:4[intransitive/transitive] ‘if people are circling, they are watching a situation and waiting for an opportunity to get something they want’ /Macmillan’s/
Would you accept it now?