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I don't understand the tense that is used with until. Here are some examples:

I had waited until the rain stopped.
I waited until the rain had stopped.

Villagers had stayed indoors until the soldiers left.
Villagers stayed indoors until the soliders had left.

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Also--it's seems like a big question to say you want someone to explain an entire tense. –  simchona Jan 6 '12 at 0:08
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As simchona notes, two separate questions should be asked as, well, two separate questions. I have removed the second question from your post, but you will find the answer to it here: How to answer a negative question without ambiguity? –  RegDwigнt Jan 6 '12 at 0:11
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Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/53731/… –  z7sg Ѫ Jan 6 '12 at 0:25
    
@z7sg Ѫ: A bit more than "related", I feel. Just because in this case OP flips the past perfect between the two verbs in one sentence doesn't make it anything other than an exact dup. –  FumbleFingers Jan 6 '12 at 2:42
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@FumbleFingers Quite possibly but I'm not sure exactly what is being asked here! The other question is very clear. –  z7sg Ѫ Jan 6 '12 at 3:03
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closed as not a real question by simchona, Daniel, FumbleFingers, Robusto, kiamlaluno Jan 6 '12 at 10:08

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2 Answers

Past perfect indicates the action which happened first, though an adverb such as until can also indicate sequence. When both verbs are in the simple past, the adverb has to do the job of showing sequence:

I finished cooking dinner before they got home.

This could be further clarified by using the past perfect for the first action:

I had finished cooking dinner before they got home.

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The problem with the above sentences is that there is an implied third action. Therefore all combos are possible depending on which two actions you comparing –  Louise Elder Jan 6 '12 at 2:53
    
You are comparing! –  Louise Elder Jan 6 '12 at 2:53
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The past perfect construction is used to show that one event in the past happened before another event in the past. In your first example, the waiting and the rain stopping are both in the past, but the waiting occurred before the stopping of the rain, so the past perfect construction I had waited is appropriate. However, where a word, such as until occurs in the sentence, that is usually enough to show that one action happened before the other, so in most cases it is possible to use the past tense instead of the past perfect construction, allowing I waited until the rain had stopped.

In the second example, once again the staying indoors and the leaving of the soldiers both happened in the past, but the staying indoors happened before the leaving of the soldiers, so there the past perfect construction Villagers had stayed indoors is appropriate. The alternative version also shows that the past tense (Villagers stayed indoors) can be used instead of the past perfect construction where it is already clear that one event occurred before the other. The use of the past perfect construction in the second half of the sentence is optional and makes no difference to our understanding of the sequence of events.

In summary, you can use either the past tense or the past perfect construction in either or both of the main clause and the subordinate clause in each of your examples and the effect will be much the same, particularly as another feature of the sentence make the sequence of events clear. Different people will use different combinations on different occasions, depending on the surrounding context.

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