From the Wikipedia article on Linda Ramone:

Relationship with the Ramones

Linda originally dated Joey Ramone but later dated and married Johnny Ramone. Stories conflict whether Joey and Linda had broken up prior to Linda dating Johnny or if Linda left Joey for Johnny.

Why had broken up should be "whether Linda and Joey broke up before she dated with Johnny"? In this sentence what comes first the dating then the breaking up that is the problem, I think! I have found the answer to my question: past perfect is used as something that had not arrived yet but was going to happen.

  • -1 for assuming any sentence in Wikipedia is going to use good grammar and/or style Apr 8, 2017 at 23:42
  • @Clare "-1 for assuming any sentence in Wikipedia is going to use good grammar and/or style" <--- Hold on a minute, this person's a learner. More importantly aren't you a teacher who assumes that grammar advice on the Education First website is accurate? A severe case of kettles calling out pots. Apr 9, 2017 at 20:19
  • 2
    @Clare - Worst justification for a downvote I've ever seen. The OP doesn't imply that Wikipedia is infallible. Moreover, we exhort users to tell us where they've found a sentence that confuses them; we shouldn't downvote them for doing so.
    – J.R.
    Apr 10, 2017 at 23:56

1 Answer 1


The past perfect had broken up establishes a sequence of two events in the past. It's not strictly necessary because prior to already establishes a sequence, but this is quite a complex sentence so the writer may have wanted to add emphasis by using past perfect as well.

If I were writing this, I would probably also use past perfect, but I would use whether rather than if to start the final clause.

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