One person climbed on the electric pol and fell from there and died. While reporting how should report?

a) He had climbed on the electric pole for some repair work and from there he fell.
b) He climbed on the electric pole for repair work and from there he fell.

Both the sentences gives the idea of electrician was on the pole and was doing some repairing work before falling from there.

So which one is correct? And why?


a) She went to her native where she was raped by her uncle.
b) She had gone to her native where she was raped by her uncle.

Both the above sentences give idea about She was at her native place when she was raped by her uncle.


First, let me say that this is not reported speech, where special rules apply when we describe what somebody said or thought. This is simple narration- telling a story.

Note also that the word native as a noun refers to a person who was born in a particular place, not to the place where he or she was born. I have used the word village instead.

In each of the examples, one version is in simple past (he climbed/she went) and the other is past perfect (he had climbed/she had gone). Both versions are grammatically correct, but we usually try to use the simplest tense possible.

We use past perfect to explain the sequence of two events: the event or action described by past perfect takes place before some other event in the past. We only need to use this when there are no other indications of the sequence. In the first example, the use of and clearly describes the sequence (climbed -> fell), so past simple (version b) is satisfactory.

b) He climbed on the electric pole for repair work and from there he fell.

In the second example, the linking word where does not define the sequence: if you look at version a:

a) She went to her village where she was raped by her uncle.

Does this mean that she went back to the village where she had previously been raped by her uncle, or does it mean that she went to the village and after she arrived he raped her?

In this example, then, the use of the more complicated tense, past perfect, is justified. If returning to the village occurred before the rape, version b is correct.

b) She had gone to her village where she was raped by her uncle.

Alternatively, if the sequence is the other way round (the rape was earlier), you could write it as

c) She went to her village where she had been raped by her uncle.

  • IMO, from there is just redundant. Because it's clear that he fell from the electric pole. – user178049 Apr 19 '17 at 11:02
  • @user178049: agreed, it's not needed, but it is grammatical and isn't a problem. – JavaLatte Apr 19 '17 at 11:12
  • That's What I am trying to understand . I can see both the formation of sentences using simple past and past perfect even some one can easily identify the sequences. Like a) police arrested the person who had killed xyz b) Police arrested the person who killed xyz. – user4084 Apr 19 '17 at 11:47
  • It is not something that past perfect is used to indicate two action. it is sometime used to indicate completed action also. a) People Had gathered to celebrate xyz b) People gathered to celebrate xyz. there is no mentioned of second action or event. still the formation is correct. – user4084 Apr 19 '17 at 11:50
  • @user4084: if you don't use past perfect had killed, it could mean that the police had previously arrested the killer for something else... and then let him go. Had gathered is not a good use of past perfect: it's grammatically acceptable, but overkill because you should use the simplest tense, and past simple would be fine. You do not need to use past perfect to indicate a completed action: past simple does that. – JavaLatte Apr 19 '17 at 16:45

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