A: How is your weekend going?
B: I have been sightseeing (today) and earlier I was at the beach/I had been at the beach(?)
Which form should I use?
English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
"How is your weekend going?"
"I have been sightseeing today, and earlier I was at the beach."
Using "earlier I had been at the beach" here is incorrect. If you shift to past perfect, a time reference exists that has no action in it. (A listener might think "had been? what happened then?")
I had been at the beach for only an hour, but I already felt sunburned.
When I decided to go sightseeing, I had already been on the beach a long time.
I had been to the beach before I went sightseeing.
In each of these examples, something happened "when you had been..." (or "after you had been..."). If there is nothing that you want to report "when or after you had been", do not use the past perfect, use simple past: "was".
You only need the Past Simple for both clauses. The adverb earlier informs the listener the sequence of events: They went to the beach BEFORE they went sightseeing.
I went sightseeing today, and earlier I was at the beach.
A sentence with Past Perfect would look like this:
I went sightseeing today AFTER I had been at the beach.
This depends on whether the speaker wishes to convey when the 'being at the beach' occurred relative to the sightseeing.
The 'earlier I was at the beach' phrase implies no particular time, whether before or after the sightseeing; whereas the 'earlier I had been at the beach' implies the 'being at the beach' occurred earlier in the day than the sightseeing.
If you use the first version, by using the same verb construction you suggest that the two experiences were very much the same in terms of their impact on you. You spent some time sunbathing, and then you went sightseeing. Nothing special about either day.
Using the second version, "I had been at the beach" is the sort of expression which would ordinarily be followed by, "(for some period) when (something happened)". It would invite immediate curiosity about what happened at the beach.