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I have this sentence with both "had gone" and "went" phrases used in similar context:

«She had a sense too, she did not know from where, that, while the boys and girls from the town who had gone to England did ordinary work for ordinary money, people who went to America could become rich»

Looks like they convey the same meaning, yet in one there is "had gone" and in another "went" is used.

Am right thinking that this phrase: "who had gone to England" is more about particular cases she knows about, vs "who went to America" is more like her thoughts/imagination. And this is why different forms are used?

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the writer is trying to make a distinction; 'went' and 'went' would not convey the contrast they were seeking; the use of 'had gone' implies an earlier action to 'went', but I think the sense is of distance in interest or relevance

  • Isn't "had gone" pluperfect tense, while "went" is perfect? – Rupert Morrish Jun 12 '18 at 20:52
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My humble opinion is that people who went to America seem to keep going,
which is less likely for those who went to England.

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