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Hi, I've been doing some exercises from the book "cambridge - english grammar in use"

There is one exercise on past simple and present perfect:

"My grandfather ....... (die) before I was born. I ......... (never/meet) him."

Why is this example placed in "past simple and present perfect" unit?

The answer is "died".

Why isn't it "had died"?

Thanks for any reply.
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Actually, "My grandfather died," is past simple."

Present perfect would be, "My grandfather has died." We can't say, "My grandfather has died before I was born."

We surely could say, "My grandfather had died before I was born," but that would be past perfect; and we're saving that for next chapter!
That's what I was asking about Emotion: smile

So it is possible to use past perfect in this example, isn't it?

Does it mean we don't have to always use past perfect when one action happend before the other?

For example:

Is it correct:

They finished dinner before I came in

or I must say: They had finished dinner before I came in.

Is using past perfect a free choice?
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Hi Tmn

The past perfect is completely unnecessary in your first sentence because there is absolutely no question whether "died" or "was born" happened first. If you use the past perfect when it isn't necessary, your sentences will often end up sounding odd.

I would say you are only likely to find that sort of "had died before I was born" in a narrative context in which both "had died" and "was born" are being used as background information to "set the stage" for the narrative itself.

To me, your second sentence "They (had) finished dinner before I came in" is a case where the past perfect is more likely to be used in any kind of context. Since the two activities were probably very close in time, using the past perfect separates the two acts better. However, the use of the past perfect is still optional because the word "before" clearly indicates what happened first.
Thanks, but it's quite difficult to differentiate when using past perfect is neessary and when it's not.
That depends to some extent on what you mean by "necessary." There may be exercises in which you're asked to insert a phrase into an existing excerpt, and the best choice may be past perfect.

But when you're starting from scratch, I don't think there's any scenario which you couldn't describe accurately without using the past perfect. Simple past will do the job.
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If it is completely clear which came first, you can use simple past.

If it is completely clear which came first AND when the two events are separated by a significant period of time, use simple past.

Even when it's clear which came first, if the two events came very close to each other and you want to draw a clear line showing one was completely finished before the other began, then use the past perfect.
Thanks for your replies.

So in everyday speech past perfect isn't necessery?

Is it only used in written and formal (for example novels, TV news etc.) english?

Is it true that it's used more often in british english?

Im Polish and in my native language past perfect or present perfect don't exist and that's why it's not easy to learn.

I'm going to give one more example:

Yesterday I came to my friend's house and his room was very untidy. He hadn't cleaned it up for ages.

Do I have to use past perfect in this context?
Yes, there you do.

The "for ages" makes it so.

I haven't been there for ages. I hadn't been there for ages BEFORE our visit last night.

But if you wanted to say just this:

His room was tidy. He cleaned it before I came.
His room was not tidy. He didn't clean it before I came OR He hadn't cleaned it before I came.
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