# Thread: In what instances can we use past tenses at the expense of past perfect tenses

1. ## In what instances can we use past tenses at the expense of past perfect tenses

Hey,

I suppose I understand using past perfect tenses quite well, yet sometimes, I tend to overuse them to be sure I am not making any mistake. In texts I have seen I noticed past perfect tenses are not always obligatory and we can easily use their past counterparts.

My question is:

In what types of subordinate clauses can we omit past perfect tenses using past tenses instead?

Do we have to use past perfect tenses in the following examples:

"I read the newspaper that I bought in the newsagent's."

or
c
"My dad was furious because I scratched his car."

or

"He explained to me why he came."

Personally, I would always use the past perfect to avoid making any mistake.

Can I easily use past tenses in the sentences?

What are the cases when we do not have to use past perfect forms?

I would appreciate advice from a native speaker if possible.

Thank you all, anyway.

Waawe

2. ## Re: In what instances can we use past tenses at the expense of past perfect tenses

Originally Posted by Waawe
Hey,

I suppose I understand using past perfect tenses quite well, yet sometimes, I tend to overuse them to be sure I am not making any mistake. In texts I have seen I noticed past perfect tenses are not always obligatory and we can easily use their past counterparts.
The past perfect tense is rarely obligatory.

My question is:

In what types of subordinate clauses can we omit past perfect tenses using past tenses instead?

Do we have to use past perfect tenses in the following examples:

"I read the newspaper that I bought in the newsagent's." No. You obviously bought the newspaper before you read it, so you don't have to signal the sequence of actions. If you want to stress something abnormal, you could use the past perfect. "I had already read the newspaper before I bought it", but even then it's not necessary if the context makes clear how this happened.

or
c
"My dad was furious because I scratched his car." No. Same reason. If A happened because of B, then B happened before A.

or

"He explained to me why he came." You could use it here, depending on the context.

Personally, I would always use the past perfect to avoid making any mistake.
How would this help you avoid the mistake of using the past perfect when it wasn't called for?

Can I easily use past tenses in the sentences?

What are the cases when we do not have to use past perfect forms?

I would appreciate advice from a native speaker if possible.

Thank you all, anyway.

Waawe
You only need to use the past perfect when the sequence of events is not clear without it, or when you want to stress that sequence for some reason. You do not have to use the past perfect tense every time you mention two things that happened in the past.
Instead of giving all the rules again, it might be best if you searched this site for "past perfect". This question comes up about fifty-seven* times a month.

*estimated.

3. ## Re: In what instances can we use past tenses at the expense of past perfect tenses

I agree with what Raymott wrote, above.

This is just a reminder that the past perfect is necessary when we are talking about past counterfactual situations:

I wish I hadn't taken that job.
If Peter had know that about Jane, he would never have married her.

4. ## Re: In what instances can we use past tenses at the expense of past perfect tenses

Raymott,

I had done some searching before I asked, yet none of them was so fine as yours.

Kudos!

Thanks again,

Waawe

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