I read a paragraph in a book:

Three months passed and then one morning, he found his wallet outside his front gate. It had been wrapped up in newspaper and contained half the money he had lost.

My question is whether 'had been wrapped up' in the sentence can be replaced with 'was wrapped up'. Please explain in detail; thanks!  

According to my personal view, Past Perfect Tense focuses more on an action which had been conducted by someone prior to the moment the wallet was found, so it gives the impression that someone had done it intentionally. On the other hand, if we replaced it with Simple Past Tense, the meaning would be totally different. It would focus more on the state of the wallet when it was found, and that is, there was newspaper around the wallet when it was discovered. Am I right?


1 Answer 1


It can be replaced, but the meaning, the tone, would be different. Both are correct, though.

The past perfect tense is most often used for the following:

  • For actions that happened before a past event
  • In reported speech
  • In if (conditional) sentences

Using Past Perfect

The distinction here is the focus of the phrase. Past tense is matter of fact, simply stating things as they were. Past Perfect brings the focus more on what has been done, and alludes and questions who might have done it. Without any extra words, the writer is shifting the focus, guiding your thoughts in a certain direction.

So, yes, it can be replaced, but it loses a certain amount of finesse in the process.

I hope this has answered your question.

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