Learn English – using both Past Simple and Past Perfect in the same paragraph


Is there a rule about consistency within a paragraph, of using past tense and past participle in alternate sentences?
In my writing class, I notice some writers mix the two freely. Since I see this usage so often, I tend to see them as equivalent. Example:

"Jane sat down on the park bench. She had come to meet with her friend. She ate her lunch sandwich slowly, enjoying the sunshine. She had brought the sandwich in a brown paper bag. She carefully refolded the bag and put it in her pocket."

Best Answer

Here the paragraph contains a mix of the past (she ate etc) tense and the pluperfect (she had brought). This is a fairly standard usage I believe which helps to place the different events in some kind of chronological order, the pluperfect ones having happened before the normal past ones. It is a little strange that they jump from one to the other in your passage but there is nothing really weird going on. The pluperfect allows you to talk in the past tense and retain an idea of 'before'.

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