1. Last year, I spent my winter holidays in Paris at Aunt Sandra's house. I have never visited Paris with a tour guide like her. It was very interesting. I saw the Monet exhibition. What a wonderful artist! We took buses and crowded tubes to cross town. The weather was fine, so we walked along the Seine where there were a lot of bookshops. My aunt showed me a boat where she lived for several years.

(Source: Narration Tenses on ToLearnEnglish.com)

Here there is no need for past perfect. We can obviously understand from the context that the aunt lived in the boat a long time ago before the visit of her nephew.

Please have a look at this quite similar example:

  1. An hour or so later, when I was having lunch with my family at home, my father asked me about the film. I then mentioned at I had been looking at toys in a department store when a store detective accused me of shoplifting and searched me in the middle of the shop. My father made me repeat what I had said, and then immediately jumped up from the table. Without either of us having finished our lunch, he made me get into the car. I had never seen my father so angry! He drove quickly to the store, parked outside, and took me to where the incident had taken place.

(Source: Completed exercise on narrative tenses in http://ingleseoi.es/c1/EF/G3A.pdf part2 )

Why in this case past perfect is used? Because it is obvious that the incident from the context happened before, is it because both events are very close the incident and the returning. So it is better to use past perfect to make a strict difference between them.

1 Answer 1


Your premise that the past perfect is used since the events occur fairly close together in time is plausible. However, I think in your examples the reason is stylistic. Either example could be changed to the other tense and not lose meaning.

In your first example, the author does not use past perfect. In your second example, the author uses past perfect often when referring to the "incident".

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