toI was in class room and wanted to go for toilet. So without taking permission of my teacher I went to toilet. When I returned, my teacher asked me Where did you go?. And I answered.

I went to toilet.

But after that one of my friend come to me said I should have used

I had gone to toilet.

So I explained him that had should be use when we talking about past of past, but here is only one past. For this he said there are two past. i.e. 1) You went to toilet and 2) You returned to class.

So my question is which version of answer is correct here? Why?

3 Answers 3


Your version of the answer is correct, because when you were answering the teacher's question, you both were in the present. So only

I went to the toilet.

..is okay.

If you were relating this whole story later to somebody, then you might use the Past Perfect:

When I returned, the teacher asked me where I had been. I replied that I had gone to the toilet.

The Past Perfect is possible because you are retelling this story now. The moment when the teacher asked you is in the past, and the moment then you visited the toilet is in a deeper past.

Grammar terminology: my second example uses "backshifting" of tenses. More specifically, this is called "a backshift in reported speech" (here's another helpful explanation).

  • The distinction between answering the teacher's question and relating the story later is a crucial point for ELLers.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 16:01

"I went to he toilet" means I went to the toilet just a short time ago, or just a short while ago, or just then. "I had gone to the toilet", means I was wanting to go to the toilet some time ago, or a while ago, after you were planning to and then did. "I had been to the toilet" is very similar. The first one is like I had been on a journey and succeeded, the second means I had a task and had completed it. Very hard to explain exactly.

I was born and grew up in Australia, I am a writer and know my English inside out. "I went to the toilet" is perfect. "I had been to the toilet" would be perfect if you were telling a story later, and then said, "After this," or, "after that, then this.." x and y happened. I can't explain why this would be perfect.


If you say "I had gone to the toilet", this means you were still in the toilet and had not yet returned to class. For example: I missed the teacher's explanation because I had gone to the toilet. If you went to the toilet and came back you had been to the toilet: the teacher asked me where I had been. I replied I had been to the toilet.

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