The sentence looks like this:

I didn’t need to read the passage text because I already knew the answers/I had already known the answers

I get it that “had” is used when we are talking about something that happened in further past but if I already knew the answers then should I use “had” because I knew them before taking the exam? And what’s the difference between these two?

  • 1
    'I already knew the answers' (I knew them at the time of taking the exam) - BUT 'I had already memorised the answers' (I did so before the exam). Jun 15, 2020 at 16:13
  • But let’s say that “I had already known the answers” because I knew the passage text before taking the exam so it’s something that was in my head before I took the exam. Jun 15, 2020 at 16:17
  • "I had already known" is not correct English. Like Kate says "had memorised" or "had studied"or had learnt" are all possible.
    – anouk
    Jun 15, 2020 at 16:21
  • 1
    It's not impossible to come up with contexts where I had already known the answer is at least "as good as" I already knew the answer. But I'm not convinced there are any contexts where I would consider that Past Perfect version "preferable", and the cited example here certainly isn't one of them. My advice: avoid it like the plague! Jun 15, 2020 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


You may have known the answers before taking the exam, but if you had forgotten them by the time of the exam, then you would have had to read the passage text. The reason you didn't need to read the passage text was that you knew them at the time of the exam.

This is because "know" in English doesn't usually mean "learn"; it usually (and in your example) has a meaning closer to "currently remember". So when you say "had already known", you're saying there had been a moment earlier when you knew. This might be true! But many true things are still not what you're intending to say.

If you want to talk about the process or moment when someone starts to know something, and really want to use the word "know" instead of "learn", "find out", etc., there's the phrase "come to know". But it doesn't really fit in your example.

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