I forgot that I had already ordered this book when I received it today.
I forgot that I already ordered this book when I received it today.

Think both are correct.
The first means that the order happened a long time ago before the forgetting (that is why I forgot it). The second means that the order and the forgetting were very close.

1 Answer 1


Welcome to English Language Learners.

I don't know if the second sentence is incorrect, but I think the first sentence is better. Here's why:

When you say 'I forgot', you are using the simple past tense.

Before you 'forgot', you ordered the book. You can indicate this very easily with the use of the word 'had'. This is called the past perfect tense.

However, I don't think there is a major distinction between the two sentences (i.e. I don't think the second sentence suggests that the 'ordering' and the 'forgetting' were close together in time).

  • But when we use past perfect we go further back than past simple don't we
    – Yves Lefol
    May 8, 2020 at 11:58
  • @YvesLefol Yes, absolutely. And that's why it's appropriate to use here: there are two actions which you performed, the 'forgetting', and the 'ordering'. Both of them happened in the past, but the 'ordering' happened even earlier. Therefore, we use the past perfect tense to indicate this.
    – Joe
    May 8, 2020 at 13:18
  • and if I changed forgot by had forgotten(to emphasize the forgetting) i had forgotten for a long time that i ordered this book when I received (it is obvious that the forgetting was after the order ) or shall i write had ordered (i don't think so)
    – Yves Lefol
    May 8, 2020 at 17:17
  • @YvesLefol 'I had forgotten that I had ordered this book' is more natural and more logical than the other sentence.
    – Joe
    May 9, 2020 at 4:28

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