This question was closed as a duplicate of this question, which has only one answer. The two questions are different, and I am not sure that I would offer the same answer to both questions.

In addition, the answer to the first question is simply the opinion of the writer: it contains no references to back up his or her claim. The OP did not accept the answer.

The OP then re-phrased the question and got two opposing answers, but then the question was closed. Should we perhaps assess the quality of the answers to the first question before closing the second as a duplicate?

Ironically, the automated closure message for the second question ends with this text: "This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question". The OP already did that... but that question was closed as a duplicate!

  • 1
    The dupe banner text is somewhat unfortunate, since in many cases what's really needed is not asking a new question, but editing the one that's there. Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 6:55

1 Answer 1


First question:

I gave him the money by 6 PM.
I had given him the money by 6 PM.

I can't spot the difference between then and both seem right, but I was told the first one is wrong. Can anyone say, why?

Second question

By 5 PM I gave him the book.
By 5 PM I had given him the book.

In both the sentences the book was given before 5 PM and no later than 5 PM. But I can't understand then what the difference between them is. a Also is it right to use simple past with 'by' at all? If yes, then why and if not, then why is it incorrect to use simple past with 'by'?

Both questions are essentially "what is the difference between them?" and both questions have the same sentences even though some of the details are different. The second question has more context and more detail from the author, so even though I agree with your point about the answers, I see no advantage to keeping these as separate questions. To me they are exact duplicates in intention, although I won't say that it is impossible to separate them with some editing.

Maybe they could be merged so that the better answers go with the better question?

  • Merging is a good idea. The questions have now been merged.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 21:42
  • @J.R. The merged question is now a duplicate of http://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/6372/when-is-the-past-perfect-exactly-needed?, as the addition of by 5pm does not change anything regarding the difference between the two tenses being asked about. Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 14:46
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    @AlanCarmack I incorporated more from the merged question. I don't think just because the examples include the past perfect the question is about the past perfect. For some reason, Policewala thinks that the simple past can't be used with "by". I think the canonical post about the past perfect would just confuse the issue, not clarify it.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 15:32

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