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I am studying German B2 and in my textbook it says that in sentences with "nachdem" there is always a change of tense between the two clauses and it gives the example of:

Ich fühlte mich besser, nachdem ich mich eingelebt hatte

As this is past simple in the first clause and past perfect in the second it is in accord with the rule. But later in the book as the answer to a question is given as:

Nachdem ich Besuch von meiner Familie hatte, ging es besser

This sentence seems to have past simple in both clauses, and therefore goes against the two tenses rule.

Our teacher couldn't explain this, perhaps someone here can.

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    As a first guess, I would say that the sentence is not correct at all; It should be "Nachdem ich Besuch von meiner Familie gehabt hatte, ging es besser". It could be an example of a sentence which doesn't sound incorrect - and everybody would fully understand, but if you analyse it under the grammatical microscope it doesn't fit the rules. But that is a guess. >> Edit: Christian Geiselmann just had the same idea while I was typing. – LurioTabasco Feb 6 '18 at 20:29
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    Note, that "past simple" is not the name of any German tense. "Past simple" is an English tense, that has a very weak correlation with German tenses. German tenses very often do not match with English tenses. The name of the tense of »ich fühlte mich besser« is Präteritum, unvollendete Vergangenheit, Nachvergangenheit, Imperfekt or erste Vergangenheit, (in Austria Mitvergangenheit). The tense of »ich habe mich eingelebt« is Perfekt, vollendete Gegenwart, Vorgegenwart or zweite Vergangenheit, (in Austria just Vergangenheit). – Hubert Schölnast Feb 6 '18 at 21:19
  • @HubertSchölnast: the OP is only slightly confused. English speakers are usually taught simple past (stand) as opposed to compound past (bin/habe gestanden) so they won't assume the latter functions as the present perfect in English. – KarlG Feb 7 '18 at 8:48
  • This question might have an answer here: german.stackexchange.com/questions/8501/… – c.p. Feb 7 '18 at 15:55
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My impression is that, indeed, the second sentence is a little bit odd; but very slightly so, so that in everyday language you would probably not pay attention. However, in a more formal context where correct use of language is crucial (e.g. when writing a novel), you would seek correct use of tenses, e.g.

Nachdem ich Besuch von meiner Familie gehabt hatte, ging es besser.

Nachdem meine Familie zu Besuch gewesen war, ging es besser.


Additional considerations

You may find it interesting that nachdem is sometimes (and in some regions) also used as a synonym of weil or da, as in

*Nachdem ich jetzt schon mal hier bin, kann ich auch noch mit dir Kaffee trinken. [ODD]

This is not correct by the rules of standard German, and you should not use it; but you may encouter it in everyday situations.

You could interpret your second sample sentence that way, too, at least theoretically;

*Nachdem [= weil] ich Besuch von meiner Familie hatte, ging es besser. [ODD]

which then would imply simultaneity of the two events ("Family visiting" and "things go better"), not sequency: things went better at the very time when the family was there.

Yet, this is most probably not what the author had in mind because hardly anyone would use nachdem in the sense of weil this in written language. It is just technically possible to (mis)read that sentence that way e.g. when you assume it is part of an oral conversation.

With the correct tense gehabt hatte, such misreading is unlikely:

*Weil ich Besuch von meiner Familie gehabt hatte, ging es besser. [ODD]

In order to make this sentence fit a real-world situation correctly you would have go to the lenghts of constructing a really complicated cluster of time periods in the past part of which ended in the past and part of which continue to the present.

For example: a person reports about a continuous situation in the past (Es ging mir besser), and relates this by the way of cause and effect to a previous event which however finished prior to the onset of the continuous situation (Weil mich meine Familie besucht hatte).

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