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  1. He had served in the Army for ten years; then he retired and married. His children were now at school.

As I know the past perfect is used for actions which happened before another action or time in the past. So according to my knowledge the above sentence means something like below.

enter image description here

The grammar book which I copied this sentence says,

"If we put the last verb in this sentence into the present tense, the other tenses will changed to the simple past."

2. He served in the Army for ten years; then he retired and married. His children are now at school.

enter image description here

Questions:

  1. If my diagram forms are correct, In the first sentence , why has simple past tense been used in the phrase 'he retired and married'? Shouldn't it also be in past perfect since it had happened before another action which describes children's school period?
  2. In second sentence; When the last verb was put in present tense, why do the other tenses change into the simple past?
  3. Is it wrong if we use the past perfect for second sentence?
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    The past perfect is not necessary in that example. It's purely the preference of the writer. This is probably not the best example to illustrate the past perfect. Also, the book is either incorrect or misleading -- the change to present tense does nothing to change the tense of the previous verbs. – Andrew Feb 8 '17 at 22:50
  • I think it gets the point across. These are two contrasting sentences. Why make a mountain out of a molehill? It does show a point. In the first sentence HAD MARRIED refers to the period before the point when he married and retired. In 3), you could leave the last verb in the present without the past perfect. But the meaning would be different. Sometimes, it's not about grammar, it's about what the speaker means. – Lambie Feb 8 '17 at 23:09
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    I went out, then slammed the door and got into the car. [one meaning] I had gone out, then slammed the door and got into the car [another meaning]. Both are correct. It depends on whether you as speaker want to say x happened before x. You use the PP to do that: Before I had entered the room, you had left. – Lambie Feb 8 '17 at 23:11
  • So I agree witrh you that PP was not necessary so why did the author choose it in this example I went out, then slammed the door and got into the car. [one meaning] I had gone out, then slammed the door and got into the car [another meaning] W hat is the difference between these two sentences in the meaning .For me both sentences mean the same thing first action go then slam the door and get in – user5577 Feb 9 '17 at 16:29

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