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    #1

    the burglar jumped/had jumped

    I’m unsure if I should use the past perfect ‘had jumped’ because the action of ‘sounded’ happened before the action ‘jump’.

    The burglar jumped/had jumped over the fence after the alarm sounded last night.

    Can I use the simple past tense ‘jumped’ instead of ‘had jumped’? If yes, please help me to understand why.

    Thank you!

  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: the burglar jumped/had jumped

    The past simple is the natural tense here. The past perfect is appropriate only if to make it clear that one past action precedes another past action - ​He had jumped over the fence by the time the policeman got into the garden.

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    #3

    Re: the burglar jumped/had jumped

    The tone of your sentence is like you are giving a report; a simple sequence of events. It would be most natural to say:

    "The burglar jumped over the fence...".

    When I consider "had jumped", I expect to see, "The burglar had jumped over the fence when...", followed by something that happened after the burglar jumped. This is past perfect; something happened in past (burglar jumped over the fence) before something else happened in the past (the alarm went off). You have the alarm going off before the burglar jumps, so the past perfect does not fit your sequence.

    You could instead say:

    "The alarm had gone off when the burglar jumped over the fence".

    The question is, "Why use past perfect"? In this case, I would use it to set up a cause/effect. Something happened because of the order of events.

    "The alarm had gone off when the burglar jumped over the fence, so the security lights were blazing, and I got a good look at his startled face".

    If, however, you are simply telling us something that happened, in chronological order, the simple past is clear and easy.

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    #4

    Re: the burglar jumped/had jumped

    Quote Originally Posted by Oceanlike View Post
    I’m unsure if I should use the past perfect ‘had jumped’ because the action of ‘sounded’ happened before the action ‘jump’.

    The burglar jumped/had jumped over the fence after the alarm sounded last night.
    You might be confused. If the action of 'sounded' happened before the action 'jumped', you'd normally say:
    "The burglar jumped over the fence after the alarm had sounded."
    Or, "After the alarm had sounded, the burglar jumped over the fence."
    Or, "Before the burglar jumped over the fence, the alarm had sounded.
    Or, "The alarm had sounded before the burglar jumped over the fence."

    The action in the past perfect happens first; then the action in the simple past happens.

    In the present tense, "The burglar jumps over the fence after the alarm sounds." If that's the order of events, you want one of the above - assuming you're going to use a past perfect.
    Last edited by Raymott; 28-Sep-2016 at 10:36.

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