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    #1

    Simple Past vs Past Perfect

    Please look at these sentences:

    1, We found the students just as shocked as we had been when we first heard about child labor.
    2, We found the students just as shocked as we
    were when we first heard about child labor.

    "had been" in Sentence 1 takes Past Perfect form, which here is used as "past of past" because at the moment "we found" we "had been shocked" in the past before that.

    However, in Sentence 2, both "found" and "were"takes the same simple past forms.

    3, He was surprised as I was.
    4, He was surprised as I had been.

    Sentence 3 tells that two facts took place at the same time, while Sentence 4 tells I was surprised first then after that he was surprised.

    Questions:
    1, Any difference between 1 and 2?
    2, Are both 1 and 2 are correct, natural, acceptable?
    3, What Sentences 3 and 4 mean are always different?
    Any other additional comments are also welcome.


    Thank you in advance.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Simple Past vs Past Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by KEN JPN View Post

    Questions:
    1, Any difference between 1 and 2? In meaning? No, the context is clear.
    2, Are both 1 and 2 are correct, natural, acceptable?
    Yes.
    3, What Sentences 3 and 4 mean are always different?
    3 is ambiguous.
    Any other additional comments are also welcome.


    Thank you in advance.
    3 can mean the same as 4, but if you want the meaning to be clear, you'd need to add some adverbial clause as you have done in 1 and 2.

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    #3

    Re: Simple Past vs Past Perfect

    Thanks.
    May I also ask for comments on the difference below:

    1, When I arrived at the station, the train already left.
    2, When I arrived at the station, the train
    had already left.

    Can these two mean the same?
    Is it OK to say, "When I arrived at the station, the train already left one hour before" ?

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Simple Past vs Past Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by KEN JPN View Post
    Thanks.
    May I also ask for comments on the difference below:

    1, When I arrived at the station, the train already left.
    2, When I arrived at the station, the train
    had already left.

    Can these two mean the same?
    Is it OK to say, "When I arrived at the station, the train already left one hour before" ?
    #1 is wrong.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Simple Past vs Past Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by KEN JPN View Post
    Is it OK to say, "When I arrived at the station, the train already left one hour before" ?
    No.

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    #6

    Re: Simple Past vs Past Perfect

    Thank you, bhaisahab and Raymotto.
    You two confirm my understanding.

    1, Past perfect is not always grammatical obligation. When the time order is clear from the context, Simple Past can be used when Past Perfect (past of past) is used.
    2, However, if one past time point is set, and another past point must clearly mean that it 'had been' before the first past, it cannot take a simple past form.

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