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There was this dialogue in a film I was watching the other night:

Girl:“I'm sorry I behaved that way just now. You must have thought that I was stupid.”

Boy: "I hadn't thought you were."

My question is:

Why did the boy use the past perfect tense ‘hadn't thought’?

Would it be wrong to simple use either the simple past tense or the present perfect ?

“I didn't think you were.”

OR “I haven't thought you were.”

I find the past perfect sometimes a pain to teach. Any good suggestions? Many thanks.
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Hi,

The previous sentence is "You must have thought..." The girl is talking about an event in the past-
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Hi,

There was this dialogue in a film I was watching the other night:

Girl:“I'm sorry I behaved that way just now. You must have thought that I was stupid.”

Boy: "I hadn't thought you were."

My question is:

Why did the boy use the past perfect tense ‘hadn't thought’?

The normal response for the boy would be either 'I didn't think you were stupid', or, probably better since it happened just now, 'I don't think you are stupid'.

If he actually said "I hadn't thought you were," I would understand him to mean "I hadn't thought you were stupid until you behaved that way, but after that I did think you were stupid. And since it was just now, I think you are stupid now'.

Best wishes, Clive
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Hi welcome to the forum,

Past perfect can be troublesome for learners.

The sequence of events that took place in any situation is important when past perfect is used. We first must understand the time reference in which past perfect is used.

Based on the dialog, everything is correct. For illustration purpose, I will label them with numbers to identify the sequence.

1) Girl:“I'm sorry I behaved that way just now. You must have thought that I was stupid.” 1) Something she did caused her to believe that he thought of her as being stupid.

2) Boy: "I hadn't thought you were." 2) he responded to her question with a past perf. because prior to her asking, he had not thought of her as being stupid. The thought in question was prior to her question.

In a conversation, no one will fault you for saying “I didn't think you were” but “I haven't thought you were.” may present a misconception being that “haven’t thought” is present perf.

Another simple example to compare:

I hadn’t heard from John for a long time until he called me last weekend.

The blue part is an event happened sometime in the past. The purple part is the ending point of that past event. Therefore, events happened prior to another event should be expressed in past perfect. Hope my explanation is not causing you confusion.

Emotion: big smile
 Dj Bueno's reply was promoted to an answer.
Goodman, thanks heaps! Your explanations helped.
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 Clive's reply was promoted to an answer.
Thanks a lot!