A writer wrote this:

An all-night party on New Year's Eve provided me with a good excuse for not carrying out either of these new resolutions on the first day of the year, but on the second, I applied myself assiduously to the task. The daily exercises lasted only eleven minutes and I proposed to do them early in the morning before anyone had got up. The self-discipline required to drag myself out of bed eleven minutes earlier than usual was considerable.

I would construct this way:

I proposed to do them early in the morning before anyone got up.

Today, I had finished exercises before anyone got up.

What should we make of the writer's use of tense? When is it more appropriate to use before anyone had got up?

  • Your constructions are both valid and idiomatic. Other people might use different tenses. Such choices are often less concerned with grammar than with personal preference and context. May 17, 2022 at 9:22

1 Answer 1


I did my exercises before anyone got up simply states the order in which things happened.

The writer had envisaged the time of day at which they planned to do the exercises. "It will be quiet then. No-one else will have got up yet." (Other people's rising will still be in the future.)

I don't know whether this makes the distinction clear. As Ronald says, it would not be grammatically wrong to use the other tense.

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