I study really hard now. but until a couple of days ago, I (hadn't studied / didn't study) hard at all.

I think hadn't studied is more proper because it refers to the state before a specific time point, which is a couple of days ago.

which one is right?

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    My suggestion is: I study really hard (now?), but in the past two (or whatever number) days, I did not study hard at all. I think you should omit "now" because it contradicts the sense of time, unless you want to mean that the moment you say it you are studying hard again. Kindly clarify. – shin Aug 12 '15 at 10:51
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    A nice play on words could be "until a couple of days ago I hardly studied at all." – Victor Bazarov Aug 12 '15 at 11:31

Past perfect tenses are used to:

  • ... expresse the idea that something occurred before another action in the past. It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past.

  • ... we use the Past Perfect to show that something started in the past and continued up until another action in the past (with certain verbs).

But I study hard now is expressing something in present, not the past. You are expressing a present and past action, not two past actions. So I think the simple past tense should be used.

Mostly, when you say "I hadn't studied" - it seems to leave an open question - "hadn't studied for ... some test that happened? What?"

Note that I study hard now says that you are studying hard in general, not for anything specific (you would generally use present continuous if you were - i.e. I am studying hard now for this test or similar), which also makes it sound like you aren't talking about an event but just a habit or characteristic of yourself.

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  • I think 'didn't study' makes sense because 'until a couple of days ago' is not the accident, which is necessary when we use past perfect. And we say like this: "I study really hard now. But a couple of days ago, I didn't study hard at all.". Even though we add 'until' here, I'm not sure if we need to use 'past perfect'. Then how about this? : Until I went to army, I had been a introverted person. – jihoon Aug 14 '15 at 2:05

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