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Because she finished the exam, she felt very happy.

I was angry because someone stole my car.

Both verbs are past simple to express cause and effect and the effect is immediate, look at this other sentence:

I was really tired because I had worked late the night before.

Why is worked not past simple to express the cause and effect, the order of event are very clear, is it because the tiredness was not immediate and came one day after working, a long time had passed between both actions.

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  • There may be a transatlantic difference here. As a British English speaker, I would say "Because she had finished the exam" to mean that she was glad it was over. "Because she finished the exam" suggests to me that she had not expected to complete the paper in the time available. Dec 5, 2019 at 9:40
  • For the record, there is no transaltantic difference in usage here. By the way, this is basically like French here. j'ai travaillé AND j'avais travaillé. Both can be used.
    – Lambie
    Jan 25 at 13:50

1 Answer 1

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If the situations affect now. You should use past perfect.

I was really tired because I had worked late the night before.

This sentence is the correct one.

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  • so I can't say I was angry because someone stole my car but someone had stolen my car
    – Yves Lefol
    Dec 5, 2019 at 9:56
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    Yes you can. As you suggest, people often do not use the past perfect when they could if the time sequence is clear.
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 5, 2019 at 10:02
  • so can I say i was tired because i worked very late the night before if so is it a big difference with i was very tired because I had worked very late the night before
    – Yves Lefol
    Dec 5, 2019 at 10:29
  • can somebody just tell me if i was tired because i worked late is ok and i was tired because I worked late the night before could be ok I think it is not possible because the working late happened a long time before the tiredness
    – Yves Lefol
    Dec 5, 2019 at 18:08
  • no, the tiredness follows the working late that occurred the night before, so it didn't happen a long time before, only a few hours before.
    – anouk
    Dec 5, 2019 at 20:26

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