I got up ate breakfast and went to work

In this sentence everything is chronological, but can we still use past perfect to emphasise that something happened before for example

I had gotten up ate breakfast and went to work or

I had gotten up eaten breakfast and went to work

I'm asking that because I know that there is no need to use past perfect for chronological actions but often I see sentences like this; I had played a game before I went to bed. Why do we use past perfect here when everything is chronological?

  • 1
    Please take care with your spelling. "aten" is not correct. Please use the markdown formatting..
    – James K
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 8:40
  • "I had got[ten] up, eaten breakfast, and gone to work." Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 8:59

1 Answer 1


In a narrative there is a sense of time. This is the time at which the narrative is taking place. And it can be a moving point in time.

I got up, ate breakfast, and went to work.

Here is a simple narrative, with a clear sense of time. All these events occurred at a point in the past. You could also make a present tense narrative. "I get up, eat breakfast and go to work" Again - there is a clear sense of time moving along, but now these events are happening as the narrator is describing them.

Sometimes in a present tense narrative you might want to describe something that is finished at the present.

I get up. I've slept well. I eat breakfast and go to work.

The speaker is still describing the present. The sleeping happened in the past but it is affecting the present. If you write a past tense narrative:

I got up. I'd slept well. I ate breakfast, and I went to work.

You need a past perfect.

In your example, "I'd played a game before I went to bed". The author is establishing a time for the sentence, the time I go to bed. And the game playing is finished at that time. If the author was writing in the present tense it would be "I've played a game before now, and now I go to bed.

  • I played a game before I went to bed means also that my game was finished unless he played a game in his bed
    – Yves Lefol
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 10:27

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