0

This question already has an answer here:

I know that in English we can sometimes "skip" the Present Perfect and use the Past Simple, like here:

John has won the election. Appropriate sort of the next day of the election night, when the speaker can suppose this is new information to the audience

John won the election. Appropriate in other cases (when this is not new information etc.)

Have you heard me? A more formal way, the result is important (we want to emphasize it), looks like a superior is asking a subordinate etc.

Did you hear me? A more informal way, when the result is not so relevant (we do not want to emphasize it) etc.

Now, the question is:

Do the same rules apply to the past perfect, is one forced to use the Past Perfect in every case, where the action was completed before the reference point?

For instance:

People had had no tooth disease, until they started to eat sugar.

People had no tooth disease, until they started to eat sugar.

I saw the car taxing from the garage, luckily the driver had managed to start the engine

I saw the car taxing from the garage, luckily the driver managed to start the engine

This question is highly related to that one, and the accepted answer there actually raised my doubts on the matter, because I have never heard that the Past Perfect can be "skipped".

Thank you very much.

marked as duplicate by Glorfindel, shin, LMS, M.A.R., stangdon Feb 21 '17 at 22:35

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 2
    Native speakers wouldn't normally say Have you heard me?, so if it did occur most of us would probably try to come up with some unusual meaning to go along with the unusual phrasing (for example, perhaps it's a lecture circuit speaker asking whether you've heard any of his previous speeches). There might be contexts where Past Perfect could actually be "preferred" in some of your examples - but to a first approximation they're all "unnecessary", and would probably be better expressed using Simple Past. – FumbleFingers Feb 21 '17 at 15:38
  • 2
    See FumbleFingers' Perfect Truism. – StoneyB Feb 21 '17 at 16:46
1

No speaker is forced to do anything.

Tenses add clarity to a statement with respect to the time(s) of the action. Adverbial phrases do likewise. Working together, verbs and adverbial phrases bring a kind of desirable redundancy to the communication. But the message can often "make it through" without such redundancy.

So both of these sentence are grammatical:

Tooth decay was unknown until people began eating sugar.

Tooth decay had been unknown until people began eating sugar.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.