(1) I did not see him yesterday.

(2) I had not seen him yesterday.

Do they both mean exactly the same thing? Should (1) be chosen (as it almost always is, except for third conditionals) because it is simpler, in a sense?

EDIT: what I think the sentences mean is "at no point in time in yesterday did I see him". Am I wrong?

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    This cannot be answered without more context. What comes before and after this sentence? Feb 7, 2015 at 16:52
  • @StoneyB, so you're saying that on their own they mean different things?
    – user132181
    Feb 7, 2015 at 16:58
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    We use the simple past to talk about something that happened before now; we use the past perfect when we are talking about the past and need to mention something that happened before the past time we are talking about. Feb 7, 2015 at 17:08
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    They don't mean the same. The difference is the same difference between the simple present and the present perfect.
    – user6951
    Feb 7, 2015 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


Difference between use of simple past and past perfect depends on the context, e.g.

Simple Past: In reply to "Did you see your friend, whom you usually see every day, yesterday?" you might reply "I did not see him yesterday."

Past Perfect: In reply to "When did you notice your friend missing?" you might reply "I had not seen him yesterday."

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