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PastMidnight
03-04-2006, 04:56 AM
When discussing events that took place previous to the current point in the narrative, can I use simple past along with past perfect? As it stands now, I've started my paragraph in past perfect, to indicate that this happened earlier (the character is thinking back to what happened in between the chapters), but then I found myself switching to simple past throughout the rest of the paragraph, once I think the time frame is clear.

Which of the following sentences is using the two tenses correctly? I would think that it is the second example, as the dependent clause is referring to the earlier of the two events (arrive in Cleveland, then sell the jewelry), but that doesn't sound right to me at all.

"When they arrived in Cleveland, Liza had taken her jewelry to sell."

"When they had arrived in Cleveland, Liza took her jewelry to sell."

CaroGirl
03-04-2006, 05:43 AM
When discussing events that took place previous to the current point in the narrative, can I use simple past along with past perfect?
Not in the same sentence. I don't think you can mix tenses within a sentence. It just doesn't work.


As it stands now, I've started my paragraph in past perfect, to indicate that this happened earlier (the character is thinking back to what happened in between the chapters), but then I found myself switching to simple past throughout the rest of the paragraph, once I think the time frame is clear.
This, however, does work. An entire paragraph full of "had gone"s and "had been"s is tedious and difficult to wade through. IMO, after the first sentence, which establishes the time, you can switch to simple past for the rest. It works just fine.


Which of the following sentences is using the two tenses correctly?
"When they arrived in Cleveland, Liza had taken her jewelry to sell."
"When they had arrived in Cleveland, Liza took her jewelry to sell."
I think neither. You need to say: "When they had arrived in Cleveland, Liza had taken her jewelry to sell." Then you can go on to say, "She wended her way along dismal streets to the pawn shop, where the man at the counter looked at her and coughed..." blah blah.

Hope this helps!