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Do you automatically use past perfect when talking about like 10 years ago or is the simple past ok?

For example:

I had suffered from cancer when I was 2 years old.

I suffered from cancer when I was 2 years old.

Do you use "had suffered" only when the simple past is used for a recent event?

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You use the past perfect to make it clear that some past event happened before another past event.

I had suffered from cancer when I was 2 years old.

This means that you had cancer before you were 2 years old.

I suffered from cancer when I was 2 years old.

This means that you had cancer while you were 2 years old.

  • In this instance, I suggest, the PAST PERFECT does NOT make it clear that the child had been cured of cancer by the age of 2, although some might infer it. Compare: I had suffered from acne when I was two years old. Few readers would assume that the acne had vanished by the time the child turned two. Rather that the child no longer suffered from acne. – Ronald Sole May 30 at 23:45
  • Well, I guess you could say that the past perfect action started before the simple past action. With the first sentence, we don't know if the child was still suffering from cancer at 2 years old or not, just that the child had started suffering before the age of 2. I am not sure if there's an implication that the child still could have had the condition but no longer suffered (emotionally?) from it at age 2 (if this is what you're saying with the acne example). – Mixolydian May 30 at 23:58

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