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Please have a look at these two paragraphs:

What indeed? While she was walking through the forest, she saw a wolf strolling slowly towards her, humming something to himself. A minute or so earlier, the wolf had been watching her from behind a tree, and had thought to himself, "She'd make a nice juicy meal".

 

I saw this girl when I was parking my car last night. She was crying. She explained she had a terrible fight with her boyfriend while he was giving her a ride home earlier, which ended in his pulling over and forcing her out of the car.

Why in the first example you use past perfect (continuous) and in the second example you don't use it? In both cases it is obvious that actions were before reference time and both actions lead to the actual situation.

  • The second bolded is not past perfect. – Alejandro Dec 22 '15 at 9:18
  • Yes i know that is why I ask this question , for me it would be better to write Had had instead of had but apparently it is better to write had – user5577 Dec 22 '15 at 9:29
  • I think it's similar to other possible choices in language (e.g., we can use any of When a man ..., he can ..; When a person ..., he or she can ...; When someone ..., they can ...; and many other choices). Most of the time, we have many choices, and all the choices are equally valid, grammatically. Each choice we choose can be a small hint saying who we are, how we think, and so on. – Damkerng T. Dec 22 '15 at 9:57
  • Probably 90% of questions about the past perfect are answered by this answer to the two and a half year old question When is the past perfect exactly needed? In general, the past perfect is not necessary when the order of events can be determined by logic or adverbial phrases. This is true for both your examples. Have a look at the linked answer above. Hope this helps! – GoDucks Dec 26 '15 at 17:43
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Essentially, past perfect generally means that an event happened before another one happened. "Event" here can be a specific actual event or a duration such as "ten years ago."

If one of the events/duration is missing in the sentence, context is expected to fill in the blank. It's also used to emphasize that something happened in the past.

She explained she had a terrible fight with her boyfriend while he was giving her a ride home earlier

This describes two events that are happening concurrently, so past perfect isn't used.

You'd use the past perfect if the sentence was something like this:

She explained she'd had a terrible fight with her boyfriend before he gave her a ride home.

or this:

She explained she'd had a terrible fight with her boyfriend three weeks ago.

Reference.

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