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English as a Second Language/Past perfect tense vs past simple tense

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QUESTION: Dear Amy,

"We use the past perfect to talk about a situation, state, feeling or action in the past e.g. Tareq felt nervous because he had never flown before."

I really do not fully understand the above and wonder if I can say "Tareq felt nervous because he never flew before" That is, I use the past simple. What is the difference between this sentence and the above sentence?

Best regards,
Antoine Ghannoum

ANSWER: Antoine,

here, the situation asks for the use of the Past Perfect tense. The Past Perfect expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past. It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past.

For more on the proper use of the Past Perfect see the link below.

http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/pastperfect.html


I hope this helps.

Best,

Amy


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Unfortunately you did not answer completely. Can I say, "Tareq felt nervous because he never flew before."

ANSWER: I did answer the question Antoine. See above:

" here, the situation asks for the use of the Past Perfect tense"

so NO you can't say "Tareq felt nervous because he never flew before" as "flew" is NOT the Past Perfect Tense.

I hope this clarifies things.

Best,

Amy



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Is it because of the use of "before" that I cannot use the past simple? Please I need more detail.

Answer
As I wrote in my original answer:

The Past Perfect expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past. It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past.

To answer your last question: yes, "before" marks a specific time in the past, therefore it requires the use of the Past Perfect Tense.

Tareq felt nervous because he had never flown before. (as in before this/that time)

Again, please review the info on this webpage:

http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/pastperfect.html

I had never seen such a beautiful beach before (I went to Kauai).
Had Susan ever studied Thai before (she moved to Thailand)?
Kristine had never been to an opera before (last night).
Had you ever visited the U.S. before (your trip in 2006)?

Here are two other websites that should help you master the use of the Past Perfect Tense:

http://web2.uvcs.uvic.ca/elc/studyzone/410/grammar/pastpf.htm

http://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verb-tenses_past-perfect_u.htm

Best,

Amy  

English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker

Expertise

I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.

Experience

I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

Education/Credentials
BSc MEd TESL post grad program for k-12 TESL post grad program for adult ed

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