I've been noticing that when writing about things that happened in the past some people will say something like. "John had graduated from college." or "His wife had left him a month ago." Other times people will write. "John graduated from college." or "His wife left him a month ago." To me the second sentence seems OK without the had because it mentions when it happened. I feel like without the had in the first sentence, if a person was writing in the past tense to start with, the meaning is that at the time the story is taking place John performed the action of graduating when the meaning is supposed to be that John, at some point in time, graduated. Also that last sentence was really long. So anyway any thoughts on how it's supposed to be used?