the history (had?) spanned thousands of years. [Past Perfect or Past Simple?]

< Previous | Next >


Hi! Should we use Past Perfect of just Past Simple? I think that PP is better, but I doubt :)

Before the formation of the Old Russian state the history of East Slavic tribes (? had) spanned thousands of years.

Thank you! :)
  • Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    I want to suggest that the past perfect is acceptable, but not obligatory here.
    The purpose of the past perfect is, when you have two clauses referring to past events (and I read "the formation of the ... state" as implying the clause "the state was formed")
    to show that event A precedes event B.
    But in this sentence you have "Before", which does the same job.
    Using the simple past would not leave any doubt about the chronological order of the two clauses.
    I don't see any need for the past perfect in a sentence such as the following:
    "Before going to the job interview, he put on his best suit of clothes."


    Senior Member
    English - England
    The past perfect sounds better to me here.
    - Before the Old Russian state formed, the history of East Slavic tribes spanned thousands of years.
    - Really? How many years does it span now, then?

    Actually, I am not entirely sure that using the past perfect entirely resolves this problem.
    < Previous | Next >