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He said he had done it the week before.

He said he did it last week.

Are they correct and mean exactly the same?

My textbook says that the following two are identical in meaning:

He said that he went to the theater yesterday.

He said that he had gone to the theater the day before.

Does this work with the phrase last week?

1 Answer 1

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The two similar sentences are not necessarily identical in meaning.

To say last week or yesterday are specified periods of time. Last week is the week before the current week. Yesterday is the day before today.

But both the week before and the day before prompt the question: Before what?

The week/day before could refer to the week/day before Christmas. So unless you are able to determine the time from the context, you cannot be sure which day or week is being referred to.

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  • Would these be correct then? When I met him this morning he told me that he went to the movies yesterday. When I met him [the time is not specified] he told me that he had gone to the movies the day before.
    – Let
    Sep 5, 2020 at 7:05
  • The first is fine and specific. The second again prompts the question Before what? You might have met him a month earlier. Sep 5, 2020 at 8:56
  • "I was in Paris last month. When I met him there he told me that he had gone to the new movie theater the day before." Now I have specified the moment: last month. Would this be considered correct?
    – Let
    Sep 5, 2020 at 13:33
  • Or rather, he had been at the movie theater the day before I met him in Paris last month.
    – Let
    Sep 5, 2020 at 14:37
  • Yes, they make it clear that he said he had been / went to the movie theatre the day before you met him in Paris last month. Sep 5, 2020 at 16:14

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