Teri’s question: “I occasionally hear someone (namely my husband) say ‘had ran’ instead of simply ‘ran.’ I am at a loss to explain the error to him so the correction sticks. Any advice?”
BizWritingTip response: This question deals with the tenses of verbs. “Had ran” is the past perfect tense. “Ran” is the simple past tense.
The past tense is used when referring to an action completed in the past.
He submitted his expense account.
I was tired all day yesterday.
I ran 5 km.
Use the past perfect tense when (1) you are indicating two things completed in the past, and (2) you want to be clear as to which one happened first.
Before he left for the day, he had submitted his expense account.
I was tired all day yesterday. I think it was because I had not gotten a good night’s sleep.
I had run 5 km before he passed me.
When writing in the North American business world, many writers use just the past tense.