English as a Second Language/Had been vs.was


Dear Shannon,

I went on holiday to the beach with my family. I went swimming in the sea. I am not a very good swimmer, but I swam out too far. I felt tired, so I climbed onto a rock. I waited until I felt better, then I swam back to the shore. I did not tell anyone that I had been worried.

My questions:
1. "swim out", "climb onto" and 'swim back" I did not find these phrasal verbs in the dictionary.
2. What if "was worried" is used instead of "had been woried? What is the differnce in meaning but the past simple and past perfect?

Best regards,
Antoine Ghannoum

They are not phrasal verbs.  Instead, the prepositions indicate direction.  He swam (out = at some distance) to the rock.  He climbed onto (= on the surface of) a rock.  He swam (back = returning) to the shore.

There is not a big difference, but by using "had been worried" instead of the simple past, it emphasizes the worry was contained to that specific time period of swimming (although here it is ok, since using the simple past with just this one story would rather imply that already).

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Shannon Cole


I can answer questions related to learning the English and Spanish language.


I have taught ESL and Spanish since 1998 at the university and middle school levels. I am a native of the U.S., and have taught in both the U.S. and Mexico.

I am owner and operator of www.coleinstitute.com, an online language school.

Georgia TESOL in Action (1999)

B.A. in Spanish; M.Ed. in Language Education

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I have clients worldwide, some who want their documents proofread, and others who take lessons with me through the Internet. Some work at high-profile companies and government organizations. Besides the U.S. and Mexico, my recent students come from South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Colombia, Russia, Italy, Paraguay, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.

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