Is there any difference at all between these two sentences? Why would a native speaker choose one over the other?

a) She had suffered from asthma when she was very young.

b) She suffered from asthma when she was very young.

Thank you.


  • Because they have different implicatures?
    – F.E.
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 6:39
  • 1
    <Comments removed> Comments are to request clarification, or perhaps to provide the seed of an answer which might help the OP and point someone else in the direction of writing an answer.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 7:18
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    – Kris
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 9:43

3 Answers 3


There is little difference between the two. If I viewed the two options in context, I might be more inclined to conclude from version a that she no longer suffered from asthma, while I would be more inclined to conclude from b that she still suffered from asthma.

  • I don't think I would conclude as you do. Nonetheless there is a difference between the two meanings. It is simply that between the pluperfect and the simple past use of any verb. And the question belongs with EL & L.
    – WS2
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 7:38

They both convey the same basic information, but

(a) may be implying that the next part of the narrative will have happened after she was very young and/or suffering from asthma, and also will likely have some relevance to the fact that she had asthma in the past.

(b) just says the asthma happened in the past, and may be the only purpose of this communication.

The past perfect is generally used to compare two different past "moments". In this case, the asthma happened before the narrative "past now".


Both sentences equally express the same meaning, that she had asthma as a child, but has since recovered. The first one, while not incorrect, sounds unnecessarily wordy. The second sentence is more straightforward.

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