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Simple past/past perfect

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Simple past/past perfect

Post by hermy » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:03 pm


I'm writing a story and I need your help. The story's written in the simple past. I'd like to know which tense I should use when I describe events that happened before the main story (for exemple a character's childhood). I'm using the past perfect but I'm not completely sure.


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Re: Simple past/past perfect

Post by Joe » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:15 am

Past Perfect (and maybe Past Perfect Continuous) is in theory correct for the past in the past. But in practice it gets a little "heavy" to keep using Past Perfect, so an author will often switch after a while to Past Simple (or Past Continuous or whatever is needed). It's partly a question of style, and being sure that the reader understands the time frame. Tense and time are not tied together religiously. We often tell "past" jokes or recount past events informally using a Present tense (I met this guy yesterday and he says to me...); and we often talk about the future with the Present Simple (My plane takes off at six tomorrow). So don't get too hung up on tense.
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