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Please, look at the end and beginning of two paragraphs, please let me know why is "expire" past perfect:

End of paragraph one :

PJ and I finally played together as a duo under the name of BB late in 1986.

Beginning of paragraph two:

Every band has a shelf life; BB had finally expired. We always felt excluded in many ways never reaching.......

I would have written:

"BB finally expired. We had always felt excluded.. " Because the split was after they had always felt excluded.
Can we explain this past perfect to tell the reader:look out we are going backwards and to avoid too much past perfect in the paragraph.

What do you think?

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Your suggested change doesn't leave the exact meaning of the content unchanged.

In the original, the past perfect use describes an event in the past in which BB expired. The reader now has that specific events of expiration in mind. This event frames the next sentence.

BB had finally expired. At the time of expiration we thought about how we always felt excluded.

The bold text is implied.

In your second option, no weight is placed on the time of expiration; it just happened in the past.

BB finally expired. We had always felt excluded during the life of the band.

The bolt text is again implied. In this choice, it seems like the author is thinking back and only now realizing that he always felt excluded.

You say you wish to avoid using too much past perfect. I would focus more on using the tense that tells the reader exactly when any thoughts or actions are occurring.

  • You mean the use of past perfect emphasizes the expiration and emphasizes the link between the lack of success and the expiration, they split because they did not have any success, so past perfect is not always a question of time – user5577 Sep 14 '14 at 17:48
  • You say you wish to avoid using too much past perfect. I would focus more on using the tense that tells the reader exactly when any thoughts or actions are occurring. Yes, indeed. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 15 '14 at 20:14
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I would need more context to know whether my answer is correct, but my feeling is that "BB had finally expired." is setting the time frame of the narrative in this paragraph. When you read this sentence, it informs you that the paragraph is happening at a time shortly after the point when BB expired.

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Every band has a shelf life; BB had finally expired.

We always felt excluded in many ways never reaching......

I've broken the snippet into two separate lines for the sake of discussion.

Narrative is subtle.

The verb in the first clause is aphoristic. "Every band has". Such general wisdom is delivered in present tense in English. "What goes around comes around."

In the second clause, BB had finally expired, the past perfect is not only acceptable, it's good, better, IMO, than your suggested "BB finally expired", because the past perfect is an explicit continuation of that aphoristic perspective: BB had reached the point that every band sooner or later reaches. A simple past tense would be asyndeton, leaving the connection of the two statements implicit.

The statement delivered in the simple past in the second line (we always felt) is not a part of that wise perspective; it's how they felt...and so the tense shifts to simple past.

To say instead "We had always felt excluded" would imply that at some point they had stopped feeling excluded, because the past perfect is used for actions completed in the past.

We had always jumped directly into the chilly waters the second our boat dropped anchor off Amity Island's southern shore. But the summer of the great white shark turned us into landlubbers.

  • So past perfect emphasizes the link between expiration and the shelf life . This is because group have shelf life that they expire very early . – user5577 Sep 16 '14 at 17:35
  • The past perfect is a continuation of the point of view of the person who has come to understand that all bands have a shelf life. It emphasizes the link between the speaker's present understanding and an event in the past. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 16 '14 at 17:40

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