While I was reading class material from a language school in Korea, I found a whole unit explaining use of the past perfect.

However, none of the sentences used a time clause with the simple past to go with the main clause with the past perfect.

All of the sentences just used the phrase "the day before".

I had eaten the day before.

Is it correct to use the past perfect without a time clause with the simple past ?


Ok, I found some other conversations.

A: Did you have chicken for dinner yesterday ?
B: No, I didn't. I had had chicken for dinner the day before.

Is this okay because there is a reference time ?

  • 2
    There's got to be something somewhere in the discourse that pins down the 'Reference Time' before which the past perfect eventuality occurred, but it doesn't have to be in the same sentence. Commented May 25, 2015 at 23:48
  • EDIT 1: Exactly right Commented May 26, 2015 at 0:48

1 Answer 1


Yes, it's okay. If there is no past reference time given explicitly, you have to imagine it. "I had eaten" means there is some past time of some significance before which I ate something or other. Perhaps you know the unsaid details, or, if not, you're invited to guess at what they might be, if you care.

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