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We cannot use the present perfect with an expression of time, like yesterday, 2 years ago. Yeah, I(non-native speaker) know that. But how about the past perfect?

a. We visited him yesterday but he had already left the house. (OK)
b. He had already left the house yesterday. (???)

I think 'a' is ok, but how about 'b'? Is 'b' correct? Can we use the past perfect with yesterday like 'b'?

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Yes you can do this. The past perfect is not like the present perfect, requiring present relevance - or, rather, it can be like the present perfect in the past, but it can also be used for a simple past-relative-to-another-point-in-the-past, with no requirement for continuing relevance.

I can actually find two possible meanings for "he had already left the house yesterday". The one I find most likely (in the absence of any context) is

At some point yesterday, earlier than the time that I am thinking about, he left the house.

But also possible is:

There was a time yesterday that I am thinking about, and he left the house before that.

  • Somebody said that the past perpect is not used to simply say that something happened some time ago. for example : I met an old friend of mine yesterday. (NOT I had met an old friend of mine yesterday.) So are you saying "He had already left the house yesterday." is ok in grammar? – Dasik Sep 6 '18 at 13:46
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    Yes, I am saying that is OK in grammar. The restriction on using certain expressions of time with a present perfect do not (or not always) apply with a past perfect. You're right that the past perfect is not simply used to say that something happened some time ago. It is used to say that something happened before an (expressed or implied) point in the past. If you say "He had already left the house", with or without "yesterday", you are saying that he left it "before some point in time that I am already talking about, or that I am going to talk about". – Colin Fine Sep 6 '18 at 13:52
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    @Colin - That bit you say at the end of your comment is key, I think. To me, the OP's original feels "incomplete" and in need of more information, i.e., something like: He had already left the house yesterday by the time I got there (which I'd probably rearrange to: By the time I got there yesterday, he had already left the house). – J.R. Sep 6 '18 at 14:17

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