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I had a question regarding the use of past perfect tense in a narrative that is in past tense. Is it correct to use the past perfect tense for an event that occurred before the point of narrative? Or should you use the past simple form unless two events are being compared and one occurred before the other? As an example:

Coach Rumi leaned back in his seat and looked at the display of medals in his office. When he had started, the team did not have a single national medal to its name.

In this example, I have a question about the second sentence. Should it be:

  1. "When he had started, the team did not have a single medal to its name," (past perfect / past simple) OR
  2. "When he started, the team did not have a single medal to its name," (past simple / past simple) OR
  3. "When he had started, the team had not won a single national medal," (past perfect / past perfect)

Thank you for your help!!

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Given that the narrative is in the past tense, the past perfect is needed to make it clear that you are referring to a time before that past.

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    Thank you, Mary! A follow-up question. If the rest of the paragraph is also about this time before past, do I have to keep the entire paragraph in past perfect? Or, if I indicate the past time using the past perfect in the first sentence, is it okay to leave the rest in past simple? I ask because using "had" so many times makes the reading cumbersome. – Saif May 16 '20 at 17:07

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