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In the short story "In the Eye of the Beholder" by Jeffrey Archer there's a sentence that goes:

By the time Gian Lorenzo had began his apprenticeship, Paolo had been appointed captain of Roma.

Why is the phrase 'had began' correct in this sentence and exactly how is the phrase different from 'had begun'?

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, user3169, Varun Nair, Lucian Sava, Mari-Lou A Apr 25 '18 at 14:51

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    I think it is incorrect. It should be "had begun". – holydragon Apr 19 '18 at 10:06
  • I too thought it was a typo. But it's Jeffrey Archer! – yaska Apr 19 '18 at 10:08
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about an OCR error. Google Books has 25 instances of the cited text, 23 of which are correct (had begun), and only 2 have the erroneous had began. – FumbleFingers Apr 19 '18 at 12:08
  • I hope it isn't closed as it is a valid question. – WendyG Apr 19 '18 at 12:30
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The sentence is ungrammatical. Began never takes an auxiliary verb, while begun always does. Began is the simple past of begin and begun is the past participle. You use began for an isolated action, and begun with an action alongside something else.

Both of these are correct:

Paolo was appointed captain of Roma. Shortly afterwards, Gian Lorenzo began his apprenticeship.

By the time Gian Lorenzo had begun his apprenticeship, Paolo had been appointed captain of Roma.

But you cannot mix the two as was done in the printing of the book.

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