If I am writing a sentence using simple past and past perfect, and in the next sentence I want to emphasize that there was another action completed even more earlier, which tense shoud I use in the second sentence?

On 1 September, the company announced that it had started its works [it started works before announcing it]. The company revealed/had revealed the project plans three months ago. [at first it reavealed plans, and then it started works]

Should I use revealed or had revealed?

  • From the first sentence it's unclear whether "it started works before announcing it" - I don't think had started leads to that conclusion... Feb 2, 2022 at 11:15
  • 2
    You need had revealed but you also need previously or "earlier", not "ago." "The company had revealed the project plans three months previously/earlier." "Ago" means "before now". "Previously" and "earlier" mean "before that." Feb 2, 2022 at 12:29
  • works is not the best choice of word there: highway works, x works, x project, etc. "works" on its own is generally used in legal texts. Not news releases.
    – Lambie
    Feb 2, 2022 at 14:33

1 Answer 1


The past perfect does the job of showing that something happened "earlier."

But there's some unclearness here that verb tenses can't solve. Three things happened in this story:

  1. The company revealed the plans
  2. They started works
  3. They announced it

The first sentence makes it clear that they started before they announced. The second sentence just shows that they revealed the plans three months before—wait, before which thing? The announcement or the starting? To make this clear you'll have to reorganize things some. Like, if it means that they started three months before the 1 September announcement, maybe:

On 1 September, the company announced that it had started its work. They had already revealed the project plans three months prior to the announcement.

  • 2
    One small detail: If we mean "work" as simply "working on something," it's usually used in a non-count way using the singular form: "They started work," "continued the work," "finished their work." Works as a plural exists, but is used in some more unusual cases, like as a synonym for "mechanism" or "factory" in some situations, or a somewhat archaic or formal synonym for "actions." Feb 2, 2022 at 14:20

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