1. I went over to John's place three months ago. (this sentence should mean the speaker went over to john's place three months before now.)

    1. I had visited John's, three months ago.

Without a reference to another event in the past that happened after the speaker went over to john's place, can the second sentence stand? But, it would be grammatically accurate still, if it was followed by a sentence like "I had visited John's, three months ago. He was doing okay, but earlier in the morning he started showing signs of weakness. He looked sick now."

We use past perfects to describe events that happened before another event in the past. So, the highlighted part should be grammatically accurate, and it should convey the meaning correctly.

But, if the second sentence stood on its own it, would it mean three months in the past from now (the present)? Or would it be a vague sentence that suggests the speaker went over to john's place three months before some other event took place?

  • 1
    You are right, the second sentence is expecting more narrative to follow, and does not stand well without that. Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 19:57
  • As I am not sure,I would like to change sentence" I visited John's,three months ago.He was doing okay,but earlier in the morning he had started showing signs of weakness.He looked sick now".
    – Thamilay
    Commented Apr 8 at 6:28

1 Answer 1


I would use "I had visited John's" when it preceded another event that happened three months ago. So the visit to John had been completed before something else happened. If you just want to convey that you visited John three months ago from the present use the past simple.

  • This preceded event that has to have happened after the speaker visited john's place, if we're using the past perfect, can be anytime in the past. And the speaker had been to john's place three months before that event, right? Like in the highlighted part, it says the speaker had visited john three months and john looked okay, but "now" he looked sick. Here, "now" is also a time in the past, it can a month ago, or 6 years ago, that isn't specified. And the speaker went to john place three months before that time. Am i wrong, here? Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 7:49
  • I find the sentence you are referring to confusing. Three months ago and now seem to be happening at the same time. Are these the exact words? By the way, when an event precedes another it happens before, not after that event.
    – anouk
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 9:01
  • I would use past simple because it is clear to understand.I had visited means there another past event required to understand easily.if I read a story or narrative with past perfect alone then we need to consider about that.In your story there is no clue for using past perfect.Just write down simple past usage it make clear us.
    – Thamilay
    Commented Apr 8 at 6:23

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