I've constructed a few sentences:

1."I noticed the people I worked with."
2."I noticed the people I was working with."
3."I noticed the people I had been working with."
4."I noticed the people I have been working with."

I've got two purposes to use them:
In the first case, I want to indicate that I do not work with them anymore.
In the second one, however, I still do.
What is the difference between those sentences?
Which ones (if correct) give either of the two cases?

  • (1) should mean that you were still working with these people, but don't be floored if someone misuses it. (2) means you were definitely still working with the people. (3) is ambiguous, for instance (3a) I noticed the people I had been working with until the recent reshuffle v (3b) I noticed the people I had been working with for many years. (4) is also ambiguous, but would be rare in the 'until quite recently' sense. Dec 29, 2020 at 14:19
  • Thanks! So, 3b means that I had been working with those people, then stopped, and after some time noticed them? And 1 - in what way could people misuse it? Thank you very much once again and sorry for asking so many questions Dec 29, 2020 at 14:54

1 Answer 1


For the instance when you want to make it clear that you are no longer working with those people:

I noticed the people I had worked with/ I used to work with.

Your sentence nr. 1 shows simultaneity of the two clauses: the fact of working with those people is not finished before the action of noticing them.

Your sentence nr. 2 is a bit more complex. Past Continuous is normally used to indicate that the action was in progress at a particular moment in the past, or for a certain period:

I noticed the people I was working with on the bank robbery/ that year.

If, however, you mean that you simply work with those people at the same company, the past continuous is not necessary. If you put your sentence in the present you might understand better the difference between:

I noticed the people I am working (this week, on this project)


I noticed the people I work with (at the same company for an indefinite period of time)

If you want to say that you still work with them, then your sentence 4. is correct, because your statement (that you work with these people) is still true at the moment of speech

  • Thank you:) What about sentences 1 and 2, then? Dec 29, 2020 at 14:09
  • Like fev says, sentence 1 is for the people you work with for a long time, whereas sentence 2 is for people you are working with temporarily, like on a project, or a few weeks. It is temporary. It can also be used to express that you were working with these people when something else happened, for example: "I was working with these people on the project when we were told the company had run out of money."
    – anouk
    Jun 12, 2021 at 17:17

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