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    #1

    Question past perfect or past simple

    I was taught that past perfect should not be overused and if it is clear which action happened before which (especially with words such as "before", "after") it should be avoided, and on a test would be considered a mistake.

    I am preparing to an exam and while doing tests from previous years I encountered an example I have a problem with.
    The exercise is error correction, so if there is anything wrong with the sentence it should be corrected. There are no answers provided. Here is the sentence:

    He was born in London in 1934, where he died 63 years later.

    My friends corrected it to "He had been born in London in 1934, where he died 63 years later."

    I was not so sure about that, because of that rule we were taught about not overusing past perfect. To me it seems perfectly clear which event happened first, and (but I might be wrong about it) the sentence seems like taken from an encyclopedic entry, which are usually written chronologically, using simple language - more the reason to avoid past perfect.

    I should also mention that changing a correct sentence, even if the outcome is another grammatically sound sentence, is considered a mistake on this test so a point is lost.

    I would be grateful for some help on this one.

  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: past perfect or past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by aggiesteph View Post
    I was taught that past perfect should not be overused and if it is clear which action happened before which (especially with words such as "before", "after") it should be avoided, and on a test would be considered a mistake.
    I would call that advice rather than a rule. I would certainly not consider it a mistake..
    He was born in London in 1934, where he died 63 years later.
    That sentence is correct.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: past perfect or past simple

    I agree with Piscean about "no rule" but I do follow that practice. If the sequence of past events is indicated by adverbs, the past perfect is optional.

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