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Questions tagged [simple-past-vs-past-perfect]

For questions about choosing between the past simple and past perfect tenses.

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When do we use “had had” and “have had”? [duplicate]

I have seen several sentences in English where some writers have written had twice in a row. I am a bit confused about when the grammar calls for using had had. For example: I had had my car ...
Md Kutubuddin Sardar's user avatar
15 votes
4 answers
18k views

"You've come to the right place!" vs "You came to the right place!" [closed]

I have to write this on a website, which one is better? Are you looking for [...](description of our service)? You've come / You came to the right place!
the_nuts's user avatar
  • 273
13 votes
2 answers
27k views

Why do people sometimes use the past perfect form of a verb when the past would suffice? (e.g. "you had mentioned")

I noticed that my American friends tend to use the past perfect form when they use the verb mention in its past form, almost despite of the context of the sentence. I hear them say "you had mentioned"...
Tom's user avatar
  • 465
8 votes
3 answers
662 views

What difference does using 'had' make to those two verb tenses, and if so, what is it?

What is the difference between if I had studied and if I studied? Can you provide an example of when one usage would be more appropriate than the other?
Mohamad's user avatar
  • 235
6 votes
4 answers
101k views

"we spent together" or "we have spent together"?

Seeing as 2010 has just recently ended, which is grammatically more correct? Thanks everybody for the great 2010 moments we spent together! vs Thanks everybody for the great 2010 moments we've ...
Flavio's user avatar
  • 163
5 votes
4 answers
2k views

"I left before they had decided what to do" Why is 'decided' in the past perfect?

I left before they had decided what to do. Is this because this is a past version of "I leave before they have decided what to do"? Because "left" doesn't come before "decided".
user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
2k views

What is the meaning of: "When I was in New York, I had visited the Statue of Liberty"?

When I was in New York, I visited the Statue of Liberty. When I was in New York, I had visited the Statue of Liberty. What is the meaning of sentence 2? Is it the same as sentence 1? Does it mean ...
Aki's user avatar
  • 1,165
3 votes
2 answers
15k views

"Until" and past perfect

Having seen one sentence in "Practical English Usage" by M.Swan (a very popular grammar book), I was really puzzled. I waited until the rain had stopped. The past perfect is generally used to show ...
Desert's user avatar
  • 338
3 votes
4 answers
2k views

Present perfect vs. Past perfect for finished actions [duplicate]

When is the perfect tense used? All examples illustrating perfect are always answer to the same question. So there is no way when I can simply said: I have written a note or I had written a ...
cru3l's user avatar
  • 131
3 votes
1 answer
1k views

American native speaker and perfect tenses

Yesterday I sent my friend a useful gift in online game. Today I can see he has not accepted it yet. Which sentence is grammatically correct and most natural in American English? "You didn't use ...
JockX's user avatar
  • 169
3 votes
3 answers
7k views

Should the past perfect be eschewed?

The past perfect serves a purpose: When describing things that happened in the past, it allows us to discuss things that happened before (i.e., in the past’s past). However, a procession of had, had, ...
The English Chicken's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
261 views

What are the real rules for choosing between the simple past and past perfect when both actions are in the past? [duplicate]

What are the real rules for choosing past perfect versus choosing past simple when you have two different past actions? I ask because the English sequence of tenses rules I was taught would have ...
Oliaoliaoliaolia's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
1k views

Had never had/never had - past perfect vs simple past

This would probably be considered a duplicate, but I looked at the other similar questions and still can't figure out what to do in this instance. Would simple past or past perfect be better here? ...
jellin2005's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
154 views

The ways to indicate a state or an action which lasted and then ended at or before some point in the past?

I feel quite confused. If I want to say that something was true or was happening for a while before some point in the past, what ways does English give me to express that? If I want to express that ...
Let's user avatar
  • 235
3 votes
2 answers
3k views

Tenses with "until then" - Is past perfect needed or is it optional?

If I understood correctly, "until now" can be "until then" in the past sentences. Would this be correct? 1) It was a new approach that was never successfully performed until then. or should I use ...
SilkyS's user avatar
  • 85
3 votes
4 answers
14k views

using past perfect in a 'by the time' clause instead of simple past

How would using past perfect in a 'by the time' clause affect the meaning differently from using the common formula (past simple in the 'by the time clause' plus past perfect in the main clause). For ...
niab's user avatar
  • 321
2 votes
2 answers
447 views

Choosing Past Simple or Past Perfect: Do I need "had" here?

Do I need "had" here? If yes, do I need to change "did" to "done"? A: Lucy accidentally broke her mum’s favorite cup yesterday. B: Oh! I think her mom was really angry at her, right? A: ...
brilliant's user avatar
  • 8,978
2 votes
2 answers
2k views

When not to use past perfect?

In a recent question: Past perfect or past simple in combination with present perfect? the asker presented three options. I have examined the document you gave me and... I have examined the ...
SF.'s user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
2k views

Using Past Simple when talking about an event which was happening for a while before another event

I always thought when a person is speaking of two past events, they should use the Past Perfect tense for the earlier event. Like this: "I had been explaining (Past Perfect) this rule to you for ...
Let's user avatar
  • 235
2 votes
2 answers
616 views

Completed action in the past lead to an ongoing action - which tense to use?

I am a bit confused about the proper tense for the following situation. I try to make an example: A couple of weeks ago I talked to someone. We have not talked or communicated in any way again since ...
kalle's user avatar
  • 167
2 votes
3 answers
302 views

Conditional sentences - which is correct?

If I had bought insurance for the trip, I would have got a refund after I got sick and had to cancel. OR If I had bought insurance for the trip, I would have got a refund after I had got sick and (...
jules's user avatar
  • 1,513
2 votes
1 answer
2k views

In the phrase "Throughout time, people have always had the desire to look more beautiful and fashionable", can the word "have" be removed?

Yes or no, and why? (This is an exam question.)
user76634's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
6k views

Present Perfect or Past Simple in 'Where have you put / did you put the car keys?' Degrees of annoyance?

In such a question, what is most commonly done by native speakers of English: focus on the past action of you putting the car keys somewhere – somewhere not-too-logical-seeming? Where did you put ...
user58319's user avatar
  • 4,084
2 votes
1 answer
592 views

Is past perfect necessary when you are talking in chronological order?

I have a question about using past perfect. I know that it's used when you want to refer to an older past event while talking about a more recent past event. But if you begin talking about past events ...
Pato's user avatar
  • 233
1 vote
2 answers
2k views

Simple past vs. past perfect

Which is correct to use in the following example, simple past or past perfect? We were completely in the dark after the wind blew the candle out. We were completely in the dark after the wind ...
user31968's user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
555 views

Past Simple and Past Perfect Simple with 'already'

Do these two sentences have the same meaning? When we arrived, David had already got home and When we arrived, David was already home
Irene's user avatar
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1 vote
5 answers
90 views

I am having trouble coördinating two clauses in the past by using the past perfect in one or both of them

I am confused about using had, talking about walking into a building in the past tense: She had been humming when she had walked into the building. She had been humming when she walked into the ...
user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
3k views

Past perfect or past simple in combination with present perfect?

Suppose I received a document from my colleague, studied it and then gave him feedback in a letter. How should I construct the following sentense? I have examined the document you gave me and... ...
krokoziabla's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
783 views

Tense simplification in subordinate clauses - past perfect instead of would have

in Michael Swan's "Practical English Usage" he states in entry 580.6 ("past instead of would ..."): "would, like will, is avoided in subordinate clauses; instead, we generally use past verbs". He also ...
user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
368 views

Simple past sounds better but past perfect seems more accurate

I think it's grammatically more accurate to say,"The market was closed after a virus had been found." However, it sounds "better" to say,"The market was closed after a virus was found." Grammatically, ...
user42934's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
1k views

Simple Past or Past Perfect

If I went to a place last night where I needed to show an id, but I forgot to have it on me. So if in the morning I was speaking to a friend(reporting on what happened), which one of the following ...
user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
51 views

On official forms, does the present perfect imply that the situation is ongoing or has not yet concluded?

I have a question specifically about present perfect usage in legal and “bureaucratic” writing. On official forms (for example, application forms from US government agencies or IRS forms), I sometimes ...
Rai's user avatar
  • 111
1 vote
1 answer
59 views

When to use past perfect continuous and simple past tense?

What's the difference between: "I had been working for ABC for 5 years" and "I worked in ABC company for 5 years". I feel that both are correct but cannot figure out the differences.
Ajay Gaur's user avatar
  • 261
1 vote
2 answers
1k views

Past Hypothesis vs Past Condition

I know the title might look confusing, so I would like to explain it in detail here. As far as I know, we can use past perfect construction when referring to a situation that didn't happen in the ...
Chien Te Lu's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
186 views

Learning about the difference between past simple and past perfect

I've been reading about the difference between past simple and past perfect and I've found that when a series of events are narrated in order past simple is the one to be used. When the events aren't ...
Andrés Martínez Vargas's user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
965 views

Past Perfect VS Past Simple: suffer [duplicate]

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 ...
user82673's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
620 views

Present and past perfect dilemma

This sentence is giving me trouble: For several days I (have/had) not had the chance to see her until a few hours ago. I think had is correct because the time reference is a few hours ago, which ...
Sherlock's user avatar
  • 387
1 vote
1 answer
476 views

He died after he was ill for a long time

(14) He died after he had been ill for a long time. (15) She told me his name after he had left. In a 1989 paper titled "Perfect and pluperfect: What is the relationship?", Raphael Salkie ...
JK2's user avatar
  • 6,573
1 vote
1 answer
56 views

Past Perfect Simple vs Past Simple

By the time he had reached the door, he remembered the pink diamond. By the time he reached the door, he remembered the pink diamond. Are both sentences grammatically correct? Thank you!
Matina M.'s user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
18k views

Past or present perfect in: "The ball fell down" or "The ball has fallen down" [closed]

I dropped something onto the floor just now. What verb tense would be appropriate to describe the situation right after falling? The ball fell down The ball has fallen down
Joea's user avatar
  • 29
1 vote
1 answer
1k views

Past tense progression [duplicate]

My mother was raised in a family that had placed extreme importance on filial piety. Is had superfluous, wrong, or correct? I can see arguments in both directions: Perfect past (raised) requires ...
user61871's user avatar
  • 113
1 vote
1 answer
1k views

Past vs Past Perfect

While writing a paper for my English class, I couldn't decided whether past or past perfect tense was needed. It's basically about how a guy whose house is destroyed because the government wants to ...
Anonymous181's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
21k views

Use of “had said” in the “The Archers”

In the BBC radio drama The Archers, the following conversation takes place: A:             David, you are not going to say what you saw. You love your family, right? David:   What? A:     ...
Noah's user avatar
  • 13.5k
1 vote
5 answers
2k views

Why is “had” ok in “What he had just said, especially that final sentence, really enlightened me”?

I’m writing a short prose piece for an academic audience and need to know whether the following sentence sounds right, especially its first clause: What he had just said, especially that final ...
tsp216's user avatar
  • 175
0 votes
3 answers
36k views

When to use "I was ... " and when "I had been ... "? [closed]

I guess it's about simple past vs. past perfect usage but some examples are welcomed, I'm really not sure if I understand it correctly. EDIT: Right, probably I should be more specific. The thing is ...
Miro Kropacek's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
970 views

Shouldn't the first verb in “she died before I was born” be in the past perfect?

Quote from English book: Sadly, I never got to meet her because she died before I was born. I think it should be: Sadly, I never got to meet her because she "had" died before I was born. I think ...
Costa's user avatar
  • 157
0 votes
2 answers
2k views

Past perfect or Simple Past: "I had [had] a hard day" [duplicate]

Question : I was really tired last night. I ______________ (have) a hard day. Which one of the two is correct sentence and why? (by the way I wrote the second one.) I was really tired last night. ...
user219913's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
3k views

Modal verbs and Past Perfect

Is it possible to use modal verbs in Past Perfect? I know we can use modal verb + perfect infinitive to talk about the past, e.g. I shouldn't have said that. This is Past Simple tense, isn't it? I ...
Elaol's user avatar
  • 19
0 votes
1 answer
944 views

Using Past Perfect after an event

While reading a book, I came across some sentences that used past-perfect "after" an event had taken place. Actually, I've seen many books do this, so this must be the grammatically correct way, but I'...
Pato's user avatar
  • 233
0 votes
3 answers
46 views

A case of usage of past perfect tense

I hit this in the "The Making of a Nation" series. The United States had refused to recognize the government in Moscow after the Bolsheviks took control in 1917. This sentence seems odd to ...
PhuocHong's user avatar