I would like to know the difference between these two sentences.

  1. We were good friends. We knew each other very well.

  2. We were good friends. We had known each other very well.

  • 2
    The second one might imply that you knew him very well up to a moment in the past. – Cardinal May 7 '20 at 19:22
  • 1
    Yes, it suggests to me that the two had been close in the past but had later lost touch with one another. – Kate Bunting May 8 '20 at 8:17
  • Yes, it hints at their earlier intimacy in the past and their communication being faded away later on. – Sandip Kumar Mandal May 8 '20 at 17:33

The first is in the simple past tense, which is used to talk about a completed action in the past. Even though you may have continued knowing each other after that, the verb "to know" isn't used in the past continuous tense, which would more explicitly say that the knowing is still happening

The second is in the past perfect tense, which is usually followed by another event, and is used to say that the first even took place and was finished before the second event occurred.

Your leading sentence "We were good friends" is in the simple past tense, so your first example flows more naturally.

If you wanted to use your second example it would make more sense to put both in the past perfect tense and say "We had been good friends. We had known each other very well".


We use the simple past to talk about past actions and happenings; but we use the past perfect to talk about an earlier past.

The first one simply describes a past event.

In the second one "had known" (past perfect) implies that it's an 'earlier past'. It means that the two persons had known each other upto a certain moment in the past and thereafter their communication faded away somehow.

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