had ended up but had begun

redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
But Brooklyn was famous for Al Capone. The gangster had ended up in Chicago, but he'd begun his criminal career near here and was married at St Mary's Star of the Sea church just around the corner.

Source: Decaffeinated Corpse

Hi, I find this sentence odd with two Perfect tenses that make the time squence unclear for me.

The Wiki page says that the gangster began his career and was married in Brooklyn, then he departed for Chicago and continued his criminal career.

So I thought Past tense "ended up" would be more appropriate. Is perfect tense "Had ended up" used as past in the past of "was famous"?
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hello, Red Giant. Lets have a look at your questions:

    Topic: But Brooklyn was famous for Al Capone. The gangster had ended up in Chicago, but he'd begun his criminal career near here and was married at St Mary's Star of the Sea church just around the corner.

    (1) Hi, I find this sentence odd with two Perfect tenses that make the time squence unclear for me. I think you have some options here in terms of tenses. The writer is clearly telling us that all these things were true of Capone before the past that is being referred to at another point in the text. It would have made as much sense to write: The gangster had ended up in Chicago, but had begun his criminal career near here and had been married at St Mary's...

    (2) So I thought Past tense "ended up" would be more appropriate. Is perfect tense "Had ended up" used as past in the past of "was famous"? Once again, the writer uses the past perfect to place all of these events in a past more remote than the simple past. Writers usually do this when they are already describing something in the simple past and now wish to discuss something that happened before the time in the simple past: He was a criminal who had been born in Brooklyn, but then moved to Chicago.

    Strictly speaking, the "had been born" could have been written as "was born". However, using the past perfect here indicates more clearly that one thing happened before another in the past.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Hello, Red Giant. Lets have a look at your questions:

    Topic: But Brooklyn was famous for Al Capone. The gangster had ended up in Chicago, but he'd begun his criminal career near here and was married at St Mary's Star of the Sea church just around the corner.

    (1) Hi, I find this sentence odd with two Perfect tenses that make the time squence unclear for me. I think you have some options here in terms of tenses. The writer is clearly telling us that all these things were true of Capone before the past that is being referred to at another point in the text. It would have made as much sense to write: The gangster had ended up in Chicago, but had begun his criminal career near here and had been married at St Mary's...

    (2) So I thought Past tense "ended up" would be more appropriate. Is perfect tense "Had ended up" used as past in the past of "was famous"? Once again, the writer uses the past perfect to place all of these events in a past more remote than the simple past. Writers usually do this when they are already describing something in the simple past and now wish to discuss something that happened before the time in the simple past: He was a criminal who had been born in Brooklyn, but then moved to Chicago.

    Strictly speaking, the "had been born" could have been written as "was born". However, using the past perfect here indicates more clearly that one thing happened before another in the past.
    Thanks Owlman. Glad to know that "had been married" is also correct~
     
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