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We watched the sea for a while. Time flew, and before we realized it, we reached harbor.

We watched the sea for a while. Time flew, and before we realized it, we had reached harbor.

Which version is the correct one? And why?

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  • +1 This is an interesting question. IMO, it's not about the tense differences only, but about dialectical differences too.
    – M.A.R.
    Apr 10 '15 at 12:00
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    I'd say it depends on whether the story-telling at that point had gone past the time they reached the harbour. It almost depends on the next sentence - "We disembarked & continued our journey" would omit the had. "Three days later, upon our return…" feels like the 'had' would be more appropriate. Though I could find valid arguments for the reversal too... Apr 10 '15 at 13:34
  • @Tetsujin Yes, the next sentence is something like, "We disembarked with the tourists."
    – alexchenco
    Apr 10 '15 at 14:30
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I would say "had reached" is desirable there because of "before we realized it".

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  • I'm with you - as I say, I could find arguments for both - depending on 'how far back in time' things were - but I can't argue it through grammatically, that's not my strong point. Apr 10 '15 at 14:37

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