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I have a question about the usage of the past tense AFTER introducing the past perfect in the text. For instance:

  1. I met John Smith for the first time in 2000. I had met other people named John Smith, but none of them WAS the guy I met in 2000.

  2. I met John Smith for the first time in 2000. I had met other people named John Smith, but none of them HAD BEEN the guy I met in 2000.

In a sense, I am asking whether after introducing the past perfect, I should keep using the same tense - the past perfect - when speaking about events happened in the same time window, or if I am allowed to "switch back" to the past simple, despite speaking about those events.

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  • But ... it's not clear to me that it's in the same time window, because the John Smith that these other John Smiths weren't doesn't come into the picture until 2000. So I think you should switch back to the past simple. Aug 9 at 1:23
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The simple past seems idiomatic to me. Using the past perfect again seems awkward and unnatural.

Consider the three verbs in this sentence:

(A) to meet (in the first sentence)

(B) to meet (in the second sentence)

(C) to be

The use of the past perfect in verb B is necessary in order to make your meaning clear. You're placing the action of B farther in the past than the action of A.

For C, you're stating a permanent fact that has always been true and always will be true. If person X and person Y are not the same person, then they always have separate human beings and always will be.

A simpler example of the coordination of tenses:

When I was a kid, I loved walking to Lover's Point and watching the animals in the tide pools. That part of town doesn't get a lot of tourists. I would spend hours there without getting bored.

The middle sentence is stating a general, permanent fact about this area. Therefore it doesn't have to be in the past tense like the other two sentences.

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