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Hi,

I was wondering if someone can explain to me the difference between simple past and past perfect tense. When would you use one vs the other? For example, When would you say...

I had sent out an email yesterday

and..

I sent out an email yesterday

When would you have to use past perfect?

Thanks.
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Comments  (Page 2) 
Anonymouswhen we use the past perfect tense of the verb we should not indicate the time expression
This statement is only correct if you substitute 'present perfect' for 'past perfect'.

CJ
Anonymousexcellent answer
Study following carefully:-
1. I reached the station when the rain left.
2. I reached the station when the train had stared.
3. I reached the station before the train started.
4. The train started after I reached the station.

In 1 none can tell the time of first action, in 2 'had left' shows it's action being occurred first, in 3 'before' is self explanatory, and so also in 4 'after' is self explanatory.
Conclusion: with 'before' or 'after' we can use simple past for both the actions with no argument left. But if time indicating world is not in, had+V3 is only way to show the earlier action and then simple past for the later action. RS Sharma Jpur.
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CalifJim Anonymous : when we use the past perfect tense of the verb we should not indicate the time expression
This statement is only correct if you substitute 'present perfect' for 'past perfect'.CJ
Sir, why is the statement not correct if past perfect tense is used ?
ortonRwhy is the statement not correct if past perfect tense is used?
Because you can use an expression of exact time with the past perfect. The restriction applies only to the present perfect.

Mike has turned off the lights at 10:30. (Wrong.)
Mike had turned off the lights at 10:30. (OK)

CJ
But past perfect tense is used when we are talking about something (event 1) that happened before something else happened (event 2)
And the example you mentioned shows only one event i.e (Turning off the lights)
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ortonRBut past perfect tense is used when we are talking about something (event 1) that happened before something else happened (event 2)And the example you mentioned shows only one event i.e (Turning off the lights)
That's irrelevant. We can change it to include more context, if you want, but it doesn't change the rule.

Mike has turned off the lights at 10:30. (Wrong.)
Mike left home at 10:35. He had turned off the lights at 10:30. (OK)

CJ
When did you turn off the lights ?
I had turned off the lights at 10:30.

Don't you think that if the simple past tense were used, it would convey the same meaning. Then why use past perfect tense unnecessarily ?

However if the sentence were indicating two event, then to show which event happened first, we would use past perfect tense.
Ex - Mike had turned off at 10:30 before he went to sleep.
ortonRWhen did you turn off the lights ?I had turned off the lights at 10:30.
In answer to that question, we would use the past simple, CJ was not answering that question.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
ortonRWhen did you turn off the lights ?I had turned off the lights at 10:30.Don't you think that if the simple past tense were used, it would convey the same meaning. Then why use past perfect tense unnecessarily ?However if the sentence were indicating two event, then to show which event happened first, we would use past perfect tense.Ex - Mike had turned off at 10:30 before he went to sleep.
You're letting your mind wander. You wanted an answer to one question, then you got distracted and started asking about something else.

CJ
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