I did not know you had been ill.

the person began to be ill before I knew it, but does that mean she is still ill or has the person recovered from his illness or does it depend on the context and without context is it possible to know if she is still ill

2 Answers 2


"You had been ill" is past perfect tense, so it is set in the past. You are looking back from a moment in the past. If you want to express that someone is still ill in the present you`d have to say: "I didn't know you have been ill". "I didn't know" is also in the present, because before now you didn't know but now you do.

  • yes ok but past perfect took the event before the one in past simple (I knew it). In this sentence " You had been ill for two weeks before I knew it," it does not mean that i have recovered now it means that my illness began two weeks ago so when I say " I did not know you had been ill " it means for me that the person was ill before I knew it
    – Yves Lefol
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 8:11

If you had been ill, you are no longer ill. You were ill at some point in the past. When you were ill is not relevant. The fact is that you were ill and you are now well.

I did not know informs us that you were not aware that the person concerned had been ill.

Typically, you might meet someone whom you had not seen for some time.

This person might tell you that s/he had been ill.

You might reply that:I did not know that you had been ill.

You are both talking about something that took place in the past of which you were ignorant.

If that were changed to present perfect: I did not know that you have been ill, it signifies that the illness was recent. It is not clear whether the person concerned is well again.

The context is necessary to make the details clear.

  • There's no implication that the person is no longer ill. They could have been ill in the past but still be ill. Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 20:05
  • no implication with had been ill that the person is no longer ill, that was what I thought but after reading Ronald Sole's answer i'm not so sure.
    – Yves Lefol
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 21:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .