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Hello,

1.By the time I reached school, the bell had rung.

1.By the time I reached school, the bell rang.

Which one is correct? What is exact meaning of the words given in bold letters?
Comments  
Hi,

'By the time' means 'not later than ..' eg by the time I picked up the phone, it had stopped ringing.

By the time I reached school, the bell had rung. OK

By the time I reached school, the bell rang. I wouldn't say it's wrong, but it would sound more natural with the Past Perfect.

Best wishes, Clive
- By the time I reached school, the bell had rung. (the bell rang before I reached school.)

- By the time I reached school, the bell rang. (First, I reached school, then the bell rang.)

1- Is "by the time" the same as "when"?

2- Is there a difference in meaning as I wrote above?
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I would say that in this case by the time could also mean the progress up to a particular time. Please correct me if this is not the case.

In view of this, both sentences are correct, and I would not say that much difference occur though I agree with Clive that the one with the Past Perfect structure sounds more natural. There is just one minor thing that is important to remember - that when you use by the time before a verb you must remember that;

By the time that I reached school, the bell had rung
I don't think "that" is required after "by the time"...

Another way to rephrase the second (simple past) sentence could be "by the time I reached school, the bell was ringing".
pieanne -- According to PEU 2005 (Practical English Usage) you need to write that after by the time when a verb follows. That is the reason why I wrote it. But it might be incorrect. Now I am a little confused.

Regards Jay
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I really don't think you have to write it. You can, of course. But if you google both possibilities, you can see the "without-that" version is much more used.
Okay sorry about thatEmotion: smile but anyhow, none of us was mistaking. Good eveningEmotion: wink
I agree to your point , Pieanne.
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