1

Here's the sentence.

I just arrived home last night when I remembered that I had left my keys in the office.

and...

  1. I think just doesn't work here because of last night.

Just could mean a relatively short while before the other action happened or an approximately short while before the other action happened, which are not specified.

So, Just can't be compatible with "last night", which is quite specific time.

  1. And I think arrived(past perfect) is not a good choice

The words like when, just, before, after, as soon as, by the time are used to sequence the actions.

So, when we want to speak past actions that happened one after the other with the words when, just, before, after, as soon as, by the time,

we have to use past perfect instead, which makes sure that one happened before the other did.

.

As a result, I think the original sentence should be chanced like...

I had just arrived home last night when I remembered that I had left my keys in the office.

or

Last night, I arrived home and remembered that I had left my keys in the office.

Am I right to think this way?

  • 2
    When the meaning in context is abundantly clear without it, the past perfect is never obligatory, especially in conversation. A formal written work should use the past perfect when it is applicable. A problem with many teaching texts is that they use conversational scenarios when trying to teach the skills required for formal writing. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 31 '17 at 12:22
  • You didn't "just" arrive "last night" as JavaLatte points out. – Kentaro Jan 12 at 5:06
1

This NGram finds a reasonable number of occurrences of "I had just arrived when", and none whatsoever of "I just arrived when". Granted, these are written occurences, but looking at individual instances, most of them are in a fairly informal, demotic style, for example:

I had just arrived when this fellow appeared wearing a tracksuit. - John Greig: My Story

When I first read the sentence, I did not feel comfortable with it: I interpreted I just arrived home to mean just now (relative to the time of speaking): the next two words are last night, which throws everything into confusion. Add the had and it's much easier to parse.

In my opinion, looking at the sentence as part of a written or spoken narrative, the first of your alternative versions is clearer than the original sentence and more natural than the second alternative version.

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