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I am wondering which tense usage is correct to answer this question.

  • How far back has the action shifted?

The action has shifted to a time before Beloved has made her first appearance and before the schoolteacher has come to bring Sethe back to Sweet Home.

OR

The action has shifted to a time before Beloved made her first appearance and before the schoolteacher came to bring Sethe back to Sweet Home.

Thank you for your answers.

  • I guess both are correct. The first one might be better for consistency. – onlyforthis Jan 3 '16 at 23:03
  • When speaking of a work of art, we conventionally use the present. "The action shifts...." and so there has to be some reason why you're using "has shifted" here; more context is required. We'd need a sentence or two preceding the snippet you've provided. We might even expect to see "The action has shifted to a time before Beloved makes her first appearance..." – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 4 '16 at 13:38
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The action has shifted to a time before Beloved has made her first appearance and before the schoolteacher has come to bring Sethe back to Sweet Home.

The action has shifted to a time before Beloved made her first appearance and before the schoolteacher came to bring Sethe back to Sweet Home.

This feels like someone given directions in a script or a screenplay or something similar, and so it's an unusual syntax not often seen outside of that context.

The first sentence is fine, but for clarity I would just use the simple present tense: "The action has shifted to a time before Beloved makes her first appearance and before the schoolteacher comes to bring Sethe back to Sweet Home."

0

The action has shifted to a time before ...

The verb is being used in the Present Perfect tense. In general Verb-Tense-Agreement scenarios, when the main clause is Present Perfect, you continue with this tense to show another action related in time, or you switch to Past Tense so show a prior action.

The sequence of events listed does qualify as being Related In Time, so you would stick with the Present Perfect.

If that does not make any sense, then here is The Short Version: Stick with Has + Past Tense Verb.

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