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How can one talk about their thoughts or what they used to believe before another action in the past.

If that thought or belief is general, then I guess we can use used to.

Assume these examples (the first one is more general than the second one):

1- Before today, I (believed / was believing / used to believe) that the moon (is / was) a star.

2- I (thought / was thinking / used to think) she (was / is) still in the office before I called her.

Which ones in the parentheses are correct?

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1) Before today, I believed that the moon was a star.

You could also say:

1) I used to believe that the moon was a star.

Using before today with used to believe is redundant and at least to me sounds odd.

You would use was because we are talking about a past belief, not what the moon actually is.

2) I thought/was thinking she was still in the office before I called her.

Either thought/was thinking could be used depending on context. But not used to think because that indicates multiple instances, while called seems to be a singular event.

And use was to match the past tense.

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