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We were all afraid thinking what might happen to us. What increased the fear was how it had been in the paper yesterday/the day before.. that the killer had killed all the people that were/had been there at the party.

In the first case, can I use the day before instead of yesterday ? And in the second case, can I use had been instead of were? What difference does it make whether I use had been or were?

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    You should use "the day before" unless we were all afraid refers to earlier today. And perfect isn't obligatory in the relative clause; for that matter, neither is the verb. " .... had killed everybody at the party." – StoneyB Jun 23 '16 at 18:47
  • @StoneyB, so basically, once I've established i'm talking about the past before past, I don't need to keep using the had, right? – lekon chekon Jun 24 '16 at 7:50
  • Check this: 4. When and how should I use the perfect?. – StoneyB Jun 24 '16 at 10:53
  • @StoneyB, I've seen that answer before. – lekon chekon Jun 24 '16 at 16:08
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We were all afraid thinking what might happen to us.

since your sentence is placed in the past, it would be better to use

We were all afraid thinking what might have happened to us.

placing both your "fear" and the hypothetical consequences at the same time as the killing.

how it had been in the paper yesterday
how it had been in the paper the day before

are equivalent, however

the previous day

might be a clearer choice since "the day before" is usually part of a construction like
"the day before yesterday".

what it said in the paper yesterday

is more idiomatic.

people that were at the party
people that had been at the party

are equivalent and can be interchanged without loss of understanding in your example.

We were all afraid thinking what might have happened to us. What increased our fear was how it had been reported in the paper the day before... that the killer had killed all the people that were at the party.

is a correct sentence.

  • And is the entire thing grammatically correct? – lekon chekon Jun 24 '16 at 16:09
  • "We were all afraid thinking what might happen to us." Indicates at some point in the past you (plural) were afraid (at that time). "We were all afraid thinking what might have happened to us." Indicates that at a point after the event occurred you (plural) were afraid when considering the event in retrospect (at a time other than the event). I'm not sure the OP means the later. – EllieK Jul 25 '16 at 20:05
  • Since we know the article in the paper refers to a previous event, you can finish the final sentence, "...all the people at the party", no need for "that were" or "had been". – EllieK Jul 25 '16 at 20:16

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