There's a sentence in the book I'm reading:

I'd been so busy thinking about myself and the shock of having a new sister, I never thought about what it would be like for Nana to have another grandchild.

Why not "I had never thought"? Both events (thinking about myself, never thinking about what it would be like) have exactly the same time reference, no?

Is there a grammatical rule that describes this? Can someone point it to me?

A similar question, but I'm not satisfied with the answer: Past simple, past perfect

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    In theory, it "makes sense" to repeat the Past Perfect of had been busy with had never thought, since they both refer to the same "past in the past" (presumably the "narrative reference time" is some later time after the baby has been born, and both "thought" references are to speaker's mental activities before that time). But in practice, native speakers don't like to use Perfect forms repeatedly - the first one here is quite enough to establish the temporal relationships; the reader / audience don't need to be repeatedly reminded of it by over-complex verb forms. Apr 18, 2022 at 12:45
  • That's a great comment! Thanks FumbleFingers
    – InStitches
    Apr 18, 2022 at 13:25

1 Answer 1


Both "I have never thought of that " and "I never thought of that" convey the same meaning:

Until now, I did not think about it

Even if the first one is present perfect and the second one past simple tense, they have the same meaning and can be interchangeably used

Check out this related question (quite similar)

  • I see, thanks for the link. So in my example, "I thought" and "I'd thought" can be used interchangeably. But is it only because this verb allows it? E.g. would "I'd been so busy thinking about myself and the shock of having a new sister, I never did my homework" be ok, or would one have to use ", I'd never done my homework"?
    – InStitches
    Apr 18, 2022 at 12:06
  • if you're referring to "thought" as the verb, my answer is yes and no. U can also use it in "I have never done that before" or "I never did that before" (done has to be changed to did though), so yes in a way the word "thought" can be used for both tenses but for others no (not sure if others word can be used for different tenses other than "thought")
    – DialFrost
    Apr 18, 2022 at 12:08
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    Hope i have answered your question :3 btw response to ur edit of ur comment: both can be used
    – DialFrost
    Apr 18, 2022 at 12:10

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