1

He decided that I could have the apartment before he looked at my credit report.

I found that sentence in an exercise, and I wonder why it isn't:

He had decided that I could have the apartment before he looked at my credit report.

because the past perfect simple is used to describe one action that happened before another action in the past.

2

Had could indicate that it is now no longer true.

Whereas

He decided that I could have the apartment before he looked at my credit report.

indicates that it is still this way now

  • Yes, you are quite right. There are many circumstances in which either the pluperfect or the simple past are interchangeable (this being one of them), and it can depend on whether you want to emphasise that one event preceded the other or not. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the first example, and the meaning is perfectly clear. However if you wanted to emphasise the earlier decision, or his mind had been changed in the interim (He had decided....before...but has now changed his mind.) then the pluperfect is the route to go. – WS2 Mar 16 '14 at 11:33
  • To expand a bit, the person in the first sentence still got the apartment (they lucked out), whereas the implication of the second sentence is that he changed his mind. – anongoodnurse Mar 16 '14 at 11:33

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