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Hi, I'm new here and I study ESL with a friend. During a study session he shared the following sentence, which was part of a composition.

In the sentence: "But before Mark could get very far with his plans, he had remembered that he didn't like her that much, so he went back and gave up"

In the second part (he had remembered) should I use past perfect or simple past, and why?  It's my understanding that he could rewrite the sentence and maintain everything on simple past. But he argued that "remembered" is an action in the past before something else in the past, so it should be in past perfect. And please point out any other grammar mistakes. I appreciate the attention and thank you in advance.

Original Post

Hello, MellSS, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

@MellSS posted:

"But before Mark could get very far with his plans, he had remembered that he didn't like her that much, so he went back and gave up"

In the second part (he had remembered) should I use past perfect or simple past, and why?  It's my understanding that he could rewrite the sentence and maintain everything on simple past. But he argued that "remembered" is an action in the past before something else in the past, so it should be in past perfect.

The simple past works much better there: "he remembered that he didn't like her that much." The sentence tells us that Mark's remembering this occurred before he could get very far with his plans.

There is no need for the past perfect. "Remembered" does denote a past event, and, like all past events, other events come afterwards; however, that obviously does not mean that every past event should be reported in the past perfect.

Also, I recommend that you change the order of the two verb phrases in the clause introduced by "so." It would be more logical to say that he gave up and (then) went back rather than that he went back and (then) gave up, wouldn't it?

Last edited by David, Moderator

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