Grammar Tips: Past Perfect Tense vs. Past Simple Tense

Do you confuse the past perfect tense with the past simple tense? Check this post and know the difference between the two.

Source: Pixabay

According to Learn English, the most common mistake with the past perfect tense is to overuse it just because it is used to talk about an earlier past. Earlier past does not equate to distant past. We do not use the past perfect tense to talk about a time in the distant past.

For example, we would not say:

  • The Romans had spoken Latin.

But rather, we would say:

  • The Romans spoke Latin.

We use the past simple tense because we simply talk about a past event—regardless if it is a recent, or a distant one. We only use the past perfect tense if we want to talk about an event before and relevant to another past event.

Look at these two sentences:

  • James had cooked breakfast when we got up.
  • James cooked breakfast when we got up.

In the first sentence, the past perfect tells us that James cooked breakfast before we got up. In the second sentence, the past simple tells us that James cooked breakfast after we got up.

Remember that unless you want to refer to a past that is earlier than another time in the narrative, you only use the past simple tense.

To know more about this topic, click here.

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