I know that I have to use past perfect when using before.
I had eaten before I swam.
But why don't I need to use past perfect with after?
I swam after I ate.
Thank you guys for the help.
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You do not have to use past perfect with before. In fact, before takes the place of past perfect.
I ate before I swam. Perfectly fine sentence that conveys the meaning. The order of events is eating followed by swimming.
On the other hand, using after is confusing because PP is about the order of things before something in the past, not after.
I had eaten after I swam is just plain strange and confusing.
I swam after I had eaten is acceptable because swimming happens after eating and swimming is listed first. You could also say After I had eaten, I swam. I would say, After I had eaten, I went swimming.