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Which sentence is correct?

I was questioned as below.

Q) Where did you go when principal arrived at you your home?

And, my answer was Ans) I went to School.

Or Should it be as below

a) I Went to school, When principal arrived at my home.

b) I had gone to school, when principal arrived at my home.

For me both sentences give same idea that when principal arrived at my home I was in school.

Please help.

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  • As a learner: "a)" can imply your leaving and his entrance occurred at the same time, while the other one clearly shows the chronological order in which your leaving happened before his entrance.
    – Cardinal
    Jan 2 '18 at 7:28
  • @Cardinal .... Thanks..... But does it not mean being in school? ...... Completed action at the specific point of time .....
    – user4084
    Jan 2 '18 at 7:37
  • I think the point is there is a difference between the verb "to be" and "to go", that would be the case if you said "I was in the school when ..."
    – Cardinal
    Jan 2 '18 at 7:50
  • @ Cardinal....Please check my edited question.
    – user4084
    Jan 2 '18 at 8:26
  • Both can be correct; it depends on your intention. If you want to say that you were at school when he arrived, then you can use the perfect form. Also, you can say something like this: I went to school 2 hours before he arrived. This implies to me the same thing. If you just say I went to school when he arrived, what I get is your departure and his entrance occurred at the same time.
    – Cardinal
    Jan 2 '18 at 8:30
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What @Ringo is saying is basically true in your example, but what if you are talking about something different? Which verb do you choose then? First let's look at your two sentences and think about what Ringo said:

a) I Went to school, When principal arrived at my home.

b) I had gone to school, when principal arrived at my home.

These two sentences are almost the same. How are they different?

They are different because the word "go" has a different tense in each sentence. If you say, "Went," that is the normal past tense. If you say, "Had gone," that is the past perfect tense.

How are those two tenses different? While the normal past tense says that the action happened at that time in the past, the past perfect tense says that the action happened before that time in the past. So in this case, if you say, "I had gone to school," that means you went to school before the principal arrived.

But what if we change your example? Are there times when both "went" and "had gone" basically mean the same thing?

Imagine if you are talking to somebody about a friend whom both of you know. The person you're talking to wants to know how you met that friend. Either of these would be fine:

a) I went to school with him.

b) I had gone to school with him.

In this example, we are making the same exact change between the two sentence, but they basically still mean the same thing. How?

Remember that the normal past tense means something happened at that time in the past, while the other one means it happened before that time. These two sentences don't say when that time actually was. You can only find that out from the context.

In this example, you are telling someone how you met a friend that you both have, so in this case, the time is basically any time before the present moment. You are talking about something that happened sometime before the present, but you aren't being specific about when.

So if you say, "I went to school with him," that's correct, because you went to school with him at some point in the past. But if you say, "I had gone to school with him," that's correct too, because no matter how recently you went to school, time would still have passed in between that and the current moment. So in that case, you went to school with him at some point in the past, and you also went to school with him before a more recent point in the past.

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Sentence (a) states that I went to school as soon as the principal arrived at the house. The act of going to school happens immediately after the principal arrived.

Sentence (b) states that I had already gone to school before the principal arrived at the house.

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  • @ringo...Thanks....Please check my edited question.
    – user4084
    Jan 2 '18 at 8:26
  • I'm not really sure what the question is now, but it seems like you think (a) means "I was already at school when the principal arrived." When (a) actually means: "I started to head to school when the principal arrived."
    – Ringo
    Jan 2 '18 at 15:06
  • @ Ringo.... When someone ask us "Where did you go this holiday?" Our Ans would be "I went to India this Holiday" in Simple past tense. We can't say "We had gone to India this Holiday". Likewise in my example How "went to" Means Started to head to school. Does "Went to" Mean status of being at school / Was at school . and "had gone" is completed action of going to school.
    – user4084
    Jan 8 '18 at 11:20
  • @Ringo...More precisely "At that time I went to school when principal arrived at my home"
    – user4084
    Jan 8 '18 at 11:38
  • I think it should be "When I went to school, Teacher came to my home"
    – user4084
    Jan 8 '18 at 15:35

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