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My mom and I are editing my book and we got stuck on a sentence: "It seemed like such a big question for someone her age — at least she thought so — for it had only been a few seasons after she was born that a Tendlebee called Tutor came to collect her."

My mon thinks it should be "had come," but I like "came." Does anyone know the correct way to do this? I found a great deal of conflicting information :-)

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They're both correct.

If you're viewing the collecting as something that happened before the present, then it should be had come. If you're viewing it as something that happened after she was born, it should be came.

You probably want to avoid using too many verbs in the past perfect, like had come, so if this is just the first of a whole bunch of verbs which need to have the same tense, use came. If not, it's up to you.

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I would use "came" as you have a date parameter ("after she was born"). Usually the past perfect tense is only used if there is no idea of the date something happened in the past, but you do know it was in the past.

  • Do you have any reference or evidence for this assertion about the past perfect? Because it seems wrong to me, as a native English speaker, and Google Ngrams says that "had left the previous day" is more common than "left the previous day" without "had", which seems to contradict your statement. – Peter Shor Nov 30 '18 at 12:18

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