This is an excerpt from a newspaper.

In September 2014 the Delhi high court had restrained the institute from using words like......

Why are we using "had" here.. Can we use past indefinite?

  • Use of perfect constructions is dependent on context; it is rarely possible to know why a perfect has been used unless its context is provided. Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 17:37

1 Answer 1


The past perfect is used when there are two different times in the past that are relevant: the time the speaker is focussing on, and the earlier time when the action took place.

The example says that the writer is focussing on a time after September 2014 (but before the present) and talking about some that happened earlier than that time.

It is usually possible to substitute a simple past, but it changes the meaning, in that it does not focus attention on a time in the past the way the past perfect does.

  • If the sentence was without date what will be the case then
    – TeamA1
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 16:56
  • The use of the past perfect establishes a time later than the event, whether that time is defined or otherwise referred to or not. The writer is inviting us to mentally locate ourselves at some time after the restraining, presumably because he is going to talk about something that happened at that later time.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 17:00
  • Can u explain the reason for this sentence. "he underlined the common Islamic heritage of both India and central Asia which had always rejected forces of extremism." why we use had and not have?
    – TeamA1
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 14:56
  • "Had" locates the rejection to before the time when "he underlined", saying nothing about whether the rejection continued after that time or not. "have" would be saying that the rejection continued up to now. Depending on when the focus time of "he underlined" is relative to the present, this may or may not be a significant difference.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 22:49
  • Can u tell me which one is correct? ....His friends could not tell me why he did not come to college yesterday......or.....his friends could not tell me why he had not come to college yesterday.
    – TeamA1
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 8:07

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