are these two sentences both correct? Is it idiomatic to express the exactly same idea in two ways? In my opinion it doesn't matter whether I choose to use either past perfect + simple infinitve or past simple + past infinitive.

(preceding text in the past tense)


  • He had (always) seemed to adapt to any kind of situation very well and that time it was no different.


  • He (always) seemed to have adapted to any kind of situation very well and that time it was no different.

To me, there seems to be only a stylistic difference.

Will appreciate any help.

  • 1
    You don't need a perfect verb form at all! Just He [always] seemed to adapt to any kind of situation... is fine. Come to that, do you really think including seemed makes sense here? Unless you specifically want to imply that his adaptation was in appearance only (not "real"), that's just pointless extra verbiage as well. Apr 21 at 12:11
  • Does this answer your question? Understanding past perfect and past simple tense Apr 21 at 13:17
  • This question has been asked and answered numerous times. Apr 21 at 13:25
  • I don't think this question has even been posted here. The fact that it is related to the past simple/past perfect issue doesn't make it similar to the other threads I've seen here. It differs. Apr 21 at 14:19
  • @PeterJennings That question doesn't mention any perfect-aspect infinitives, which are a major focus of this question ("to have adapted"). Perhaps there's another question that this one duplicates more closely? Apr 28 at 3:55

1 Answer 1


I see a slight difference between the two sentences, which hardly affects the overall meaning.

A On every previous occasion he had seemed (at the time) to adapt well.

B Looking back, it seemed to the narrator that he had adapted well every time.

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