# past simple or present perfect for an action connected to the future

My friends told me that they planned to see me next Sunday before going back home. I told them that it was very nice but completely forgot to add that I won't be there next Sunday, the day they planned to see me.

Is past simple a good choice for "plan" or would it be better to use present perfect for the second "planned" because they may change the date.

• Actually, I would use the past continuous "they were planning" in both cases. The simple past is OK, but I wouldn't use the perfect. (Comment rather than answer because I can't immediately think how to explain this choice). Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 10:12
• The simple past is fine in both instances. It doesn't matter that they might change the date, they still planned to see you Sunday. Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 19:00

What you are dealing with here is reported speech. The assumption is that your friends told you this:

We are planning to see you next Sunday before going back home.

Therefore, if we report that speech the way you did, that becomes:

My friends told me that they were planning to see me next Sunday before going back home.

(Tenses shift from present continuous to past continuous. If you do not know how reported speech works you can find a pretty good explanation here.)

Now to review your second sentence:

I told them that it was very nice but completely forgot to add that I won't be there next Sunday the day they planned to see me.

You should never use "planned". Because they didn't "plan". You would never say "I plan to see you.", instead you'd say "I am planning to see you". The best tense to use in this scenario would be past perfect continuous, because they had been planning before you told them that it was very nice, and past perfect is used to express that something happened before something. If you don't quite understand that you can read this.

I don't know how you came to the conclusion that you should use present perfect. Present perfect is not used to express probability, as you suggested.

• You would never say "I plan to see you"? I think that you are in the minority. .books.google.com/ngrams/… Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 14:01
• Well that is weird. I can't find an explanation to that.@JavaLatte Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 14:19
• Shouldn't there be a comma after “... be there next Sunday”? Also, @JavaLatte, present progressive tense is usually used with future plans, appointments, and similar. The simple tense here sounds more formal.
– user3395
Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 15:01
• @user2684291: One uses present continuous to imply future plans: "I am meeting her tomorrow". When you use the verb plan, it is an explicit plan, so it is redundant to additionally imply future plans by using present continuous. I agree that it is grammatically correct but, as the NGram shows, it is less common than using present simple. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 16:17