Simple past vs Past perfect


 Why in the following sentences the simple past or the past perfect can be used in some phrases, while only the past perfect can be used in others?
1)He denied that he HAD TAKEN/ TOOK the money from the office.
2)At the conference, scientists reported that they HAD FOUND a cure for cancer.
3)The teacher guessed that some of the children HAD CHEATED/ CHEATED in the exam.
4)The boy told me that he HAD LOST his train ticket and didn't know how he would get home.
5)He denied that he HAD EVER BEEN/ WAS EVER in love with Kathy.

6)She showed him the letter that she HAD RECEIVED/ RECEIVED from her brother.   

7)Nadia said that she BROKE/HAD BROKEN the vase by accident and offered to replace it.    8)I was certain that HAD SEEN Rebeca at the hockey match, even though she said she was at home.                          

asked Jul 28 '12 at 20:38 Roberto New member

1 answer


I totally agree with Tolley, sir. Here are the major differences between the two:


All the examples and definations are quoted from the website


I hope this gives a clear picture of how and when to use simple past tense and past perfect tense.



"The Past Simple Tense:


Here's when we use it:


1  Finished events in the past with no connection to the present:

Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa.
The Vikings invaded Britain.

2  With a finished time word (yesterday, last week, at 2 o’clock, in 2003):

I went to the cinema yesterday.
We visited Japan in 2007.

3  For stories / lists of events:

He went to a café, sat down and lit a cigarette.
Yesterday I went to the library, met a friend for lunch, and played tennis.

Details of news:

I’ve hurt my leg. I fell off a ladder when I was painting my bedroom.
I've been on holiday. I went to Spain and Portugal.
5  As part of the second conditional:

If I won the lottery, I would buy a house in Chelsea.
If she knew his number, she would call him.



We use the past perfect tense fairly often in English.


1: A completed action before something else in the past.

    When we arrived, the film had started. (= first the film started, then later we arrived)


2: To explain or give a reason for something in the past.

    I'd eaten dinner so I wasn't hungry.
    It had snowed in the night, so the bus didn't arrive.


3: Stative verbs only: something that started in the past and continued up to another action in the past.

    When he graduated, he had been in London for six years.

    (= he arrived in London six years before he graduated and lived there continuously until he graduated, or even longer)


4: As part of the third conditional.

    If I had known you were ill, I would have visited you."

link answered Jul 29 '12 at 11:07 sanjay Expert

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Scarlet DarwinJun 12 '13 at 16:48

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