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As we can see in https://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/pastperfect.html

If the past perfect is not referring to an action at a specific time, past perfect is not optional. Compare the examples below. Here past perfect is referring to a lack of experience rather than an action at a specific time. For this reason, simple past cannot be used.

She never saw a bear before she moved to Alaska. Not Correct

She had never seen a bear before she moved to Alaska. Correct

But I found the next sentences in the textbooks:

I never was in such a difficult situation before.

And

Before I went to the university, I worked as a carpenter for 5 years

So, is the quotation in the beginning wrong? And may we write "She never saw a bear before she moved to Alaska." by analogy with "I never was in such a difficult situation before ?"

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According to the traditional grammarians, when two actions happened in the past , the first action should be in the past perfect and the second action should be in the simple past:

So the correct sentences should be:

She had never seen a bear before she moved to Alaska

But descriptive grammarians like Michael Swan say that the conjunctions before and after refer to the sequence of the actions and that past perfect is optional.

So she never saw a bear before she moved toAlaska

is also correct.

Similarly, Before I went to the university, I worked as a carpenter for 5 years is equally correct.

Besides, I worked as a carpenter for 5 years seems to be a past habit. so past perfect is not necessary anyway.

Even the adverb never can be used in the simple past and the past perfect.

So sentences such as:

I never saw such an inciden before is equally correct as i had never seen such an incident before/ earlier

Here is a link which helps you.

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/amp/british-grammar/before

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