I know this is not really a new question but . . .

I got a letter from John yesterday. We were at school but I lost touch with him because he was very ill and could not go to school anymore.

QUESTION #1: Here is my question. Will it be possible to use past simple for lost because if I receive a letter that means I am in touch again. So the action "lost" is completed or finished as soon as I get a letter. In that case, past perfect should be better. Right?

QUESTION #2: Same question for were at school. That means that I'm still at school with John at the time of receiving a letter. Right?

  • AmE: The lost sounds fine. However, unless you are saying that you were at school at the moment you received the letter, I would not use "were" - "went to" would work. Oddly, this issue is also resolved in my ear by changing it to "We were at school together, but I lost touch with him..." – Adam May 7 '15 at 17:57

If I interpret your example correctly, the use of past simple, in both cases, seems right to me, because the temporal context here (that time when you went to school together) is completely over. It looks merely like a narrative use of the past simple to me and I see no reason to establish anteriority with the past perfect.

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