Past Perfect Tense: Dear Sexy G,

Dear Sexy Grammarian,
I have a grammar question!! Would you say: I thought we finally realized or I thought we had finally realized? Does it matter?

Thank you for your continued dedication to grammar and sexiness,
Christine

Hi Christine! Thanks for writing. You’re talking about the difference between past perfect and past tense here. Depending on your meaning, either of your examples might be okay. You’re telling a story in this sentence that definitely happened in the past: I thought.

Now, whether to make the other verb in your sentence past tense (finally realized) or past perfect (had finally realized) depends on when you thought that final realization took place.

Past perfect describes a past that took place before the past tense. So, did you think you had finally realized at some time before you thought about finally realizing? Probably. In that case, you should write, I thought we had finally realized. But on the off chance that you thought you were realizing something at the same time you were thinking it, you might write, I thought we finally realized.

Yours,

The Sexy Grammarian

Frequently, a client or online fan shares a burning grammar question, and I always post answers here on the blog.  If you have a question, don’t hesitate to write to me. Looking for more attention? Get affordable, project-focused private sessions in person or via Skype or email.

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