"According to police, the girl went for her daily tuition to prepare for the board examinations."

What is the meaning of above sentence?

A) Does it mean that girl had gone to tuition for preparation of examination?

If correct then why reporter has used simple past and not past perfect?

b) Or, Every day she goes to Tuition for preparation of her examination. I mean above sentence is the simple past tense of "She goes to Tuition every day for preparation of her exam".

c) Or anything else.

For reference please read below link.


  • For your benefit, it is best practice on ELL to wait at least 24 hours before accepting an answer. This allows many more native speakers of English a chance to see and respond to your question. Also, once you accept an answer, you are less likely to receive more answers. See Not so fast! (When should I accept my answer?) Nov 8, 2016 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


There is a possible ambiguity with the simple past. It can refer to something done regularly in the past or to something that took place on a particular occasion in the past. However, with contextual clues, the ambiguity can be resolved. Here we have the word daily. Thus, native speakers would understand the sentence to mean that on that day, as on most days, she had gone to her daily tuition.

The past perfect makes clear that we are referring to a particular occasion or event relative in time to another in the past.

P.S. In reported speech, there is often a backshift of tense, but it, too, like the past perfect, is not obligatory; in the presence of other contextual clues, it merely corroborates the fact that the speech is indirect; the backshift is not needed to establish that fact.

  • As always, if you're going to downvote, provide a reason.
    – TimR
    Nov 8, 2016 at 10:19
  • -1 The presence of daily does not resolve the inherent ambiguity. Nov 8, 2016 at 11:32
  • Of course it does. daily indicates that it was customary or regular activity. What ambiguity do you still perceive? "We went to the beach when I was a kid". "We went to the beach each summer when I was a kid". In the first, without each summer, we don't know if it was a single occurrence or a customary thing. In the second, we know that it was a customary thing.
    – TimR
    Nov 8, 2016 at 12:10
  • She went for her daily tuition implies that on a particular day she went there. If there was police involved, it is MOST likely, to be one particular time. And not: She used to go to her daily tuition at those times. "We went to the beach [in the summer] when I was a kid". Does not imply each summer. /We used to go to the beach, when I was kid/ does. Daily tuition can name an activity performed daily but use of the simple past implies it refers to that but on a particular day.
    – Lambie
    Nov 8, 2016 at 15:55
  • @Lambie: you have misunderstood what I wrote. I was contrasting two sentences. 1) We went to the beach when I was a kid. and 2) We went to the beach each summer when I was a kid. Note the quotation marks around the sentences.
    – TimR
    Nov 8, 2016 at 18:56

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .