Past Perfect or Simple Past??

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member
Hello. Please help!

Mary: Why didn't you go to the party?
Me: I wasn't invited / I hadn't been invited?

I think they are both correct. We can use either of them if the time is understtond, right?
But I'm wondering if there are any differences in emphasis or aspects?

  • dreamlike

    Senior Member
    That's the way I see it:
    a) If I wanted my grammar to be impeccable, I'd say "I hadn't been invinited" since me not being invited to the party is an event which had occured before me missing the party.
    b) In a regular conversation, I'd happily use "I wasn't invited".

    I think that either one is fine.


    Senior Member
    British English
    You can make out a case for "I hadn't been invited": You weren't invited, then you didn't go to the party. Personally I'd say "I wasn't invited." The past simple would be slightly more emphatic than the pluperfect anyway. I wouldn't say the pluperfect was wrong. But perhaps it's a little over-correct.
    The mere fact that one event precedes another isn't a sign that you want the pluperfect somewhere. You'd say (1) "He didn't invite me to the party so I didn't go" - a simple sequence of events. But you'd say (2) "I didn't go to the party because I'd arranged to go to a concert" - your arranging to go to the concert was the cause of your being unable to go to the party. There's a difference in the emphasis on the time frame between (1) and (2). You could insert an "already" before "arranged".
    In response to the question "Why didn't you go to the concert?" I'd say (3) "because I couldn't get a ticket" or (4) "because they'd run out of tickets". In (3) I'm simply saying that I couldn't get a ticket. The implication in (4) is that they'd run out of tickets before I tried to buy one.
    Another suggestion: (5) "I was late for the meeting because my train was late". In response to the question "Why were you late for the meeting?", I certainly wouldn't say "Because my train had been late".
    It's a subtle point. The views of other people would be interesting.
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >