Comment to 'Hey all! I've not written on here for a while, but I'm scratchin...'
  • Hi Ben, as you suggest, you could go for 'John had protested when Jack first starting mocking him.' 

    An alternative could be 'When Jack first started mocking him, John had protested.' 

    I hope this helps a bit.

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    • Thanks Libby! I think I'll go with the former, as it fits better within the context.

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      • I think you've got your tenses mixed. The PAST PERFECT (eg had protested) indicates a past moment 'two steps back in time', a pre-past if you like. The PAST SIMPLE (eg protested) indicates an action finished in the past, usually referring to the complete action, at a specific moment in time in many cases. 

        Of the actions you have, if I've understood correctly, the mocking comes first, then the protesting by John. So it makes more sense to say:

        'John protested when Jack had first starting mocking him.'

        HOWEVER since these seem to be one action followed by the other (and Past Perfect is better limited) I would keep it simple and say:

        'John protested when Jack first starting mocking him.'

        Reversing the order as suggested makes things simpler too and puts the emphasis on the mocking which is perhaps the stronger of the two actions and more interesting for the reader to focus on.

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