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I am writing a text on theatre. I would like to put in one sentence two different time references:

"The model has recently been popular in the academia"

AND

"It was theorized about 50 years ago by X"

The sentence would go along the lines of:

"What has recently been popular in the academia was/had already been theorized about 50 years ago by X"

I'm wondering whether I should use the Past Simple form as there are no 2 different past reference points or the Past Perfect form - since 50 years is a long time and I would like to emphasize the fact.

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    The example shows two time frames: 1 {"What has recently been popular in the academia} = recent past and present. and 2 {was/had already been theorized about 50 years ago by X}" = completed in the [distant] past. So as to more clearly separate the two ideas, the older, completed action (theorised) is placed in the past perfect. This then creates the gap between past and present. The use of the past perfect is also justified by "{was/had already been theorized about 50 years ago by X}" being preparatory to the current comment/event.
    – Greybeard
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 9:38
  • @Greybeard That was my intuition but since the 1st time frame is literally 'present', is Past Simple for the 2nd time frame not enough? Commented May 12, 2020 at 10:22
  • Either tense is grammatical. You could also use was already or has already been. This is purely a matter of style and choice. Commented May 12, 2020 at 14:37
  • @JasonBassford But I do need to include the "50 years ago" bit, so "has been" seems like a contradiction, doesn't it? Commented May 12, 2020 at 15:03
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    @JulesCocovin I ran out of space above. I should have mentioned that the past perfect is commoner in writing and is mainly used to set the background/context for the main subject (theme). The theme is {"What has recently been popular in the academia}, the background to which is {[It] had already been theorized about 50 years ago by X}. Of course, this is not a rule - rather idiomatic.
    – Greybeard
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 19:21

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