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Do both sentences (below) have the same meaning?

He was doing landscape work before he was hired by the taxi company.
He had been doing landscape work before he was hired by the taxi company.

marked as duplicate by pyobum, choster, jimm101, Chenmunka, J. Taylor Feb 13 at 23:45

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Both are fine. Both can describe the same objective circumstances.

The difference (as usual when the past perfect is involved) is a very subtle one of temporal focus. When you use "had been", you are putting the temporal focus at the point when he was hired by the taxi company. If you use "was", you are not doing so.

In most cases, there will not be any practical difference.

But suppose this is a narrative, and you go on to say "He worked hard".

If you say "He was doing landscape work before he was hired by the taxi company. He worked hard", without "had", then it is ambiguous which job he worked hard at, because you haven't established a temporal focus. I think in the absence of any other clues, the reader will assume it was the landscape work.

But with "had", "He had been doing landscape work before he was hired by the taxi company. He worked hard", the implication is that he worked hard as a taxi-driver, because you have established in the narrative that you are talking about a point later than his landscape work.

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