Let's say you were storytelling your past academic shortcomings. And you say:

"I was not a perfect student when I was still studying at school. For instance, I had handed in projects which were past the deadline, this is just one those shortcomings I had when I was still a school learner."

Is this sentence construction, particularly the bold letters, grammatical?.

  • I have used ''had'' for several projects that were overdue the given date(in the past)--is it correct?
  • Also, is it ''the deadline'' or ''the deadlines'' or ''deadlines''?
  • 1
    Instead of the wordy “which were past the deadline,” you could simply shorten that to “late”: I handed in projects late.
    – J.R.
    May 25, 2018 at 11:33

1 Answer 1


I had handed in...

This is past perfect, which is used to talk about something that occurred before some other event in the past, for example.

I had known him for some time when I first met his wife

The other event is meeting his wife, and so I use past perfect to indicate that the knowing occurred before I met his wife.

In your sentence, there is no other event, so you should not use past perfect. Simple past is fine:

I was not a perfect student when I was still studying at school...

the deadline in this case is understood to mean the deadline [for the project]. You should not make it plural, because there is only one deadline for each project.

A few minor corrections:

at school. For instance, I ...

It is not normal to start a sentence with for instance. It would be better to put a comma before it, rather than a full stop, and omit the comma after it.

studying at school

What else are you at school for? omit studying.

deadline, this

this is the start of a new sentence. You need a full stop, not a comma

those shortcomings

those would refer to some shortcomings that you have already mentioned... but you have only mentioned one!

shortcomings I had

this is not idiomatic in this context. better to say "my shortcomings"

school learner

This is not idiomatic. Say either "student", or "at school". This NGram shows just how uncommon it is.

Putting that all together, you get:

I was not a perfect student when I was at school, for instance I handed in projects which were past the deadline. This was just one of my shortcomings as a student.

The last sentence is actually redundant, because "for instance" makes it clear that this is just one of many failings.

  • Regarding your very last sentence, I think it should be ''This was just one of my shortcomings when I was still a school learner.''(your not a student now) also, I changed the 'student' word at the end coz I don't wat to repeat the word itself. What's your take on this?
    – John Arvin
    May 25, 2018 at 13:36
  • 2
    As I pointed out, school learner is not idiomatic: see the NGram that I provided a link to. "You're not a student now..." the expression "as a student" in this context means "when I was a student". If you don't want to repeat student, replace "as a student" with "at school" or "back then".
    – JavaLatte
    May 26, 2018 at 2:33

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