Ken lives in city C. My mom and I live in city B.

My mom: Was Ken in city B when we left for city A on 2/15?

my first response: He had already arrived at the time.

my second response: He had already arrived by then.

my third respone: He had already arrived on 2/16.

Which response is grammatically ok?

Can I use a definite time adverb (like yesterday, last month, on 2/16, etc) with past perfect tense when I want to be more specific about what time a past event happened. (of course, on the condition that a past event has been established)

  • For the last one, did you mean "... on 2/15", to match your mother's question?
    – James K
    Feb 17, 2018 at 17:06
  • Yes, exactly. That was a typo. Thank you for your help^^
    – vincentlin
    Feb 18, 2018 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


It is generally better to use "by ..." with a past perfect.

You are using a past perfect because you need to refer to a point before a given time. So while I understand "He had already arrived on 2/16", I would be more likely to say

He had already arrived (by 2/16) (by then) (by that time)

If I knew when Ken actually arrived, I'd use simple past

Yes, he arrived in B city on 2/10.

If I only knew he had arrived some time before, some more details may clarify.

Yes, I got an email from him on 2/14, so he must have arrived by then.

Or I'd just answer my mum's question:

Yes. He was already here.

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