The grammar rule says that if the verb in the main clause is in the past tense then the verbs in the subordinate clauses will also be in the corresponding past tense.

According to the grammar rule mentioned above, "had" has to be used here:

It was unclear that she has/had painted the door.

But is there any condition in which "has" can be used?


A simple test you can use to distinguish between these cases: imagine that someone has "undone" the action you're describing. For example, imagine Ann painted a door green, but I haven't been to visit her lately. Then I could say "It was unclear that she has painted the door" or "I don't know if she has painted the door". If, however, I go to visit her and find the door is red (perhaps because Ann painted it green then her husband painted over it), I might say "It was unclear that she had painted the door" or "I don't know if she had painted the door".


Both can be used in this situation. Has can be used because it is the present perfect tense, and had is the past perfect (also called the pluperfect) tense so it may also be used. If you use has it implies that the action which began in the past continues into the present OR the effect of the action continues into the present. If you use had it indicates that an action that was completed in the past before other(seemingly important) action took place.

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