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If I understood correctly, "until now" can be "until then" in the past sentences.

Would this be correct?

1) It was a new approach that was never successfully performed until then.

or should I use past perfect?

2) It was a new approach that had never been successfully performed until then.

  • 2
    You second sentence is in past perfect, and is correct. – Peter Shor Jul 2 '14 at 13:19
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As Peter Shor, says in a brief comment, the correct tense to use in the example sentence is past perfect:

it was a new approach that had never been successfully performed until then.

You also have the option to replace "until then" with "previously"—preferably either at the end of the sentence or between "that" and "had."

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It is past perfect tense which should be used in this case since this sentence talks about two past actions of which we need to let the reader know as to which action took place first. For an example, let's take a look at the following question:

When I went to the railway station, the train had left. I thanked him for what he had done.

In both of the above sentences, there were two past actions and one action preceded the other. Hence, past perfect tense should be used to explain the first past action and simple past tense to explain the second past action.

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