boasted of killing and <had started> to act [past perfect]

vladv

Senior Member
Russian-Russia
Talking about Past Perfect, could you explain me why the author from the Economist magazine uses this tense in the following sentence " Arsen Pavlov, better known as Motorola, was a Russian irregular who boasted of killing Ukrainian prisoners-of-war and HAD started to act independently of Moscow." Logically, he always was a russian irregular, so he couldnt boast earlier about killings than he was an irregular. Maybe Past Perfect is used to emphasise the action that would have far-reaching conseqeunces? ( Arsen Pavlolv is said to have been killled by Russian spooks for non toeing the Russian line).The link is http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21709066-while-foreign-powers-argue-about-its-future-ukrainians-struggle-take-their-destiny
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    There is a reference time for this sentence: the article is looking at one time, the time when he was killed or when his funeral took place. Looking back from that time, he had already started . . . (at an earlier time). That was a definite action; he started once. If it just said 'and acted', it would be simple past, because 'acted' is a continuing process. Being an irregular and boasting were also continuing or repeated verbs, so they didn't happen once at one earlier time.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Logically, he always was a russian irregular, so he couldnt boast earlier about killings than he was an irregular.
    It doesn't say he started boasting about his killings before he became an "irregular".

    Arsen Pavlov...was a Russian irregular who boasted of killing Ukrainian prisoners-of-war and HAD started to act independently of Moscow."
    It just means that he was a Russian irregular who boasted of his killings, and at some point during his career as an irregular, started to act independently of Moscow.

    Cross-posted.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    When he was alive, we might have said
    Motorola is a Russian irregular who boasts of killing Ukrainian prisoners-of-war and has started to act independently of Moscow.
    Now he is dead we say
    Motorola was a Russian irregular who boasted of killing Ukrainian prisoners-of-war and had started to act independently of Moscow.
     
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