This paper presents a text-based analysis of the communicative functions of the simple past and pluperfect tenses of English, and offers a pedagogical approach to assist learners in acquiring them. Following a functional, usage-based linguistics perspective, the analysis holds that the simple past expresses Time PAST, while the pluperfect expresses Time PAST, BEFORE. Thus only the latter tense signals a speaker's subjective creation of a linkage in time. The understanding of these meanings can enhance an English language teacher's effectiveness in the classroom (as in selecting texts and activities) and a language user's effectiveness in communication. A classroom-based pedagogical application using Form-Focused Instruction (an approach which integrates grammatical awareness with communication) is provided as illustration.