Which sentence is correct ?

a) Last year, Court had convicted him for murder.

b) Last year, Court convicted him for murder.

I have received answers that Both of my sentence constructions are correct and can be used as per context. But I have learned that perfect tense can not be use with timeline in this example it is Last year.

I am sharing below links to support this



  • I have received answers that both are correct and can be used as per context. But What about time lines i.e. Last year. I have learned that Time line can be use while construing Perfect tense.
    – user4084
    Feb 21, 2018 at 12:36
  • 1
    I was curious, so I came back to see that 1. You have not accepted any answer (Present Perfect) 2. You did not award the bounty. (Simple Past) Then I looked at your active page and saw 3. you rarely upvote anyone's contributions (Present Simple). I had answered (Past Perfect) because I thought the question was rather good and I saw I could add something new. In any case, I hope the words in bold show when the Past Perfect can be used.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 1, 2018 at 16:53

3 Answers 3


In sentence a, had convicted is past perfect: you only used this to talk about something that happened before some event in the past.

The police had cautioned him several times before the court convicted him of murder.

In sentence b, convicted is simple past: this is used to talk about something that happened before now.

Sentence b is the right one to use in this example because there is no other event in the past. Note that in the UK it would be normal to put the definite article before court, and the correct preposition to use for convict is of:

Last year the court convicted him of murder.

  • 4
    "The court" is correct in the U.S., also.
    – prl
    Jan 21, 2018 at 21:26

As is often the case with the choice of past tenses, both are perfectly grammatical and idiomatic (as regards the tense. There are other issues which are not quite idiomatic: see JavaLatte's answer), and both could be used to refer to exactly the same set of events.

The difference lies in how the speaker is choosing to relate the events, and (in particular) the temporal sequence.

If you use the first form Last year, the Court had convicted him for murder, you are saying that the temporal focus is at some time in the past, but later than the conviction. In a narrative, this will mean either that the story time has already been established at this later time, or this sentence itself will establish a story time for subsequent sentences.

If you use the second form, you are not setting a story time: the narrative might continue from the conviction, or from the present, or from some time in between.

  • In other words, "had convicted" is acceptable in a sentence that discusses something that happens later than the conviction. Since the quoted sentences do not mention any later event, as a reader I am left with a feeling that something is missing from the sentence... So I would say a) is incorrect. Feb 23, 2018 at 19:30
  • @laugh Not at all. It happens all the time in conversation, that one might use had in a sentence like that. Yes, it depends on context but is not incorrect.
    – Lambie
    Feb 23, 2018 at 23:05

None of the sentences by the OP are "correct" for several reasons.

  1. As JavaLatte's answer explains, the definite article, the, is required before court, and I don't see any justification for capitalising it either. The word court is not a proper noun and unless the actual tribunal building is called "Court", it should not have a capital letter. Thus if we operate the necessary changes we are left with this
  • (a) Last year, the court had convicted him for murder.
  • (b) Last year, the court convicted him for murder.
  1. Next, the biggest obstacle in my view is not which tense is used but the preposition "for". Again, this is also mentioned in JavaLatte's answer.

Prepositions are awkward little words, sometimes more that one preposition can fit but carry a different nuance in meaning, e.g. think about and think of, other times there is no difference in meaning but much depends on your dialect, e.g. at the weekend and on the weekend. But in the case of convict the preposition used by native speakers is, without doubt, of. This website claims that convicted of is used 91% of the times whereas convicted for is only used in 5% of the cases.

With The Grammar Fixed…

  • (a) Last year, the court had convicted him of murder. [PAST PERFECT]
  • (b) Last year, the court convicted him of murder. [SIMPLE PAST]

Now, both sentences are grammatical and respect the norms of spelling and punctuation. This is where I differ from JavaLatte's answer and I agree with Colin Fine's. Without further context, it is not possible to say which sentence is preferable, a bare sentence, as long as it is grammatical cannot be "wrong".

The Present Perfect

  1. The OP believes that a timeline cannot be used with the perfect aspect. That is not entirely accurate. It is the Present Perfect that is not normally used with an expression of time
  • (c) WRONG: Last year, the court has convicted him of murder

The sentence is in nonstandard English or ungrammatical (depending on one's point of view), the Present Perfect is used when our focus is not on the time the action occurred; e.g., “The court has convicted him” and when the speaker is more interested in the results felt in the present e.g. the assassin has been found guilty of murder and will be sentenced. He cannot harm anyone now.

  • (c) CORRECT: The court has convicted him of murder. (Now, he is in jail) [PRESENT PERFECT]

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