Stormtrooper, a little known and struggling band from London, had formed and disbanded in a space of 10 months in 1975, two years before punk rock had risen out of the ashes of glam and pub rock . They had formed in the bar of the famous Marquee club in Wardour Street in London's West End...

Once they were a band, and had run through a few rehearsals in the cellar of the Marquee, they were ready to record a demo......

Why did the author use past perfect a second time (they had formed....) when he had already established the time in the first sentence ( before punk happened )? We already knew that the formation and the split came before punk was it necessary to write it a second time .

I didn't write the internet link because it is broken.

nigelgoodall Stormtrooper I'm a mess


2 Answers 2


This is a reasonable choice of tense, though it isn't essential.

The author anchors the time of the narrative at the time of the album being made, so events that precede that (but have a relevance to that time) are given in the past perfect.

The author could have structured his narrative differently, for example with a chronological development in the past tense. It is a stylistic choice not to have done this.

  • but in the first sentence he already told us that they had formed before punk and obviously before the band released the single so what the use to repeat it a second time
    – Yves Lefol
    Commented May 14, 2023 at 6:04
  • 1
    You would continue to use past perfect for events that had completed at the time being talked about. "John started school yesterday, he had packed his bag the night before and he had gone to bed early...."
    – James K
    Commented May 14, 2023 at 6:07
  • May be it would have been better if he had added "before they released a single" at the end of the second sentence to anchor the time of the narrative at the time they released a single . In this case it would have been more explicit and wouldn't have been a repetition of sentence 1 . A new info would have been given ( the release of the single and when it took place.)
    – Yves Lefol
    Commented May 14, 2023 at 8:09
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    I find nothing surprising or odd about this piece of writing. I don't think there is anything that is odd, nor anything that needs to be added. It seems to be fairly simple plain writing. That these events occurred before cutting the first single is clear from the context and general knowledge.
    – James K
    Commented May 14, 2023 at 10:33
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    You are trying to find a special reason that the author had to use past perfect. I don't think there is one. It is a choice. I very natural and normal choice. It is natural and normal because of the story that the author is telling. The flow of the narrative. He chooses to put these in the past perfect because they occurred before the start of his story. There is no grammar reason that he has to do this. It is his choice. It is a good choice because of how it structures his story. It clarifies what the story is about. It is a narrative device, not a grammar rule.
    – James K
    Commented May 15, 2023 at 20:41

The past perfect you're asking about is fine because the context is before punk.

The problem is that the clause about punk also has past perfect: "...two years before punk rock had risen out of the ashes...", so there's no established simple past timeline at all in that paragraph. Before what simple past time had punk risen?? Doesn't say. This might be the problematic tense you were reacting to.

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