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I have a problem with this question:

Steve __________ to the manager after lunch the day before. A. spoke B. was speaking C. had spoken D. has spoken

If I have a sentence like the following one, I have to use had done for the verb used in Past Simple.

Steve spoke to the manager after lunch yesterday.

So, I will have a new one with Reported Statements:

Steve had spoken to the manager after lunch the day before.

However, as far as I have checked the meanings of each choice, I think there is no other verb used in past simple form like He said that so I don't think had spoken is a good choice. For me, this one is better:

Steve spoke to the manager after lunch the day before.

Am I wrong?

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The are all correct depending on the context and following statements.

Steve spoke to the manager after lunch the day before. I don't know what it was about.

Steve was speaking to the manager after lunch the day before. He looked a little upset.

Steve had spoken to the manager after lunch the day before. He said this wouldn't be a problem anymore.

Steve has spoken to the manager. It was after lunch the day before. You don't need to again. (Not the exact sentence).

  • Oh my god. I have never thought that Past Continuous can apply in this situation. One more question, what are the differences between the first and the third sentences? Is this okay if I don't use He said that before or after Steve had spoken to...? – Hồ Quang Trung Jul 6 '16 at 15:25
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    The implication in #3 is that Steve is speaking to the manager again. – Johns-305 Jul 6 '16 at 15:47
  • Sorry, but I don't get the point. For me, I only use Past Perfect when I think there is another verb used in Past Simple in the sentence. – Hồ Quang Trung Jul 6 '16 at 15:50
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    What this points up is that the choice of past verb form in English does not necessarily correlate with an objective difference in the facts. Often, several different verb forms are possible to describe exactly the same events, the difference being in how the speaker is constructing the narrative and what point of time they are focusing on. – Colin Fine Jul 6 '16 at 16:03

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