Know Thy English: Perfect your ‘Past Perfect’

A short lesson this week, as I’m slightly short on time but this one’s an important lesson nonetheless.

I think a lot of people, my self included, are not clearly aware of the rules of the Past Perfect tense and make the mistake of using it even when it is not needed.

For example:

Take this simple statement.

I had gone to the beach today.

Looks absolutely correct, doesn’t it? But in reality, it is just complicating matters a bit. Let us see the definition of Past Perfect tense then:

The Past Perfect expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past. It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past.

So this means that Past Perfect is only to be used when you have two events occurring in the past and you want to specify that one precedes the other. Or when one is a cause of the other.

To reiterate, the below is the correct usage of past tenses:

  1. I went to the beach today.
  2. I had gone to the beach today before I was summoned up in court.

Further Reading:

http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/pastperfect.html

http://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/past-perfect-use.html

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11 thoughts on “Know Thy English: Perfect your ‘Past Perfect’

  1. Hah! Good points! Many native English speakers wouldn’t even be able to tell you what past perfect is (though they use it all the time), much less realize it’s a succession. Often the succession is understood by the context of the discussion, too, and it can sometimes be used interchangeably with past simple.

    Liked by 1 person

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