I see that I hadn't noticed is commonly used by native speakers, more than the pair I didn't notice and I haven't noticed ,in the following example

People are being more careful nowadays, don't you think?

I hadn't noticed that!

Is it a rule or is it just preference? And could I use that said pair as well (didn't/haven't noticed)? Or they differ?

2 Answers 2


While the three say the same thing about the past, they say very different things about the present.

“I hadn’t noticed” means I didn’t notice that before, but I do now.

“I haven’t noticed” means I didn’t notice that before, and I still don’t.

“I didn’t notice” only refers to the past; it says nothing about the present.


I hadn't noticed generally means, "I hadn't noticed until you mentioned it"

The implication is that, before you mentioned it I hadn't noticed. Now that you have mentioned it I have noticed it (because you mentioned it)

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