I am writing a paper on the Roman Empire and I have a problem. Is the following sentence correct? It doesn't sound too well for me.

When a client king had died, Romans replaced him with one of their educated hostages.

closed as off-topic by David, Davo, Mari-Lou A, ab2, tchrist Jul 25 '17 at 2:40

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  • 1
    And what do you think about “When a client king died...”? – Jim Jul 24 '17 at 6:54
  • If using the pluperfect "had died", my inclination would be to use "where", rather than "when". "Where a client king had died...* sounds more idiomatic to me. – WS2 Jul 24 '17 at 7:26
  • Why not just "when a client king died"? – Xanne Jul 24 '17 at 17:39
  • "When a client king had died" leads me to think you describe one specific such situation. "When a client king died" leads me to think that this is what typically happened when kings died, and that you are not specifically talking about one king. – Jim MacKenzie Jul 24 '17 at 22:05

The difference between constructions such as "When a client king died..." and "When a client king had died" is that the former suggests something resembling simultaneity, whereas the latter makes it clear that the replacement (in the case of the example offered) was a subsequent event. Perhaps a simpler alternative: "After a client king died, Romans replaced him with one of their educated hostages."

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