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Hi

I'm not sure about the tense used in the sentence below:
"The court ruled that the three union members were to be paid compensation since new evidence proved that the machines were already broken before the strike" I would say "had already been broken before the strike" instead of "were..." How do you think?
Also: The California Voice or California Voice (should I put "the" or leave it)?

thanks
Comments  
the word "before" helps to understand the sequence of events. Past perfect or simple past are equally OK.
I agree that the words already and before make the order of events clear.

However, there is a difference if 'had been broken' is used instead of 'were broken'. In the phrase 'were already broken', the word 'broken' is clearly an adjective and 'were' is the simple past tense, active voice of the verb 'be'. There is no suggestion that the machines were broken by someone. It simply says the machines were already in a broken state.

If you change 'were already broken' to 'had already been broken', I'd understand the past perfect passive of the verb 'break' and therefore there would have also been an agent that/who did the breaking (...had been broken by someone). And that would be a change in meaning.

In my opinion, if you want to use the past perfect in the sentence and also want to avoid changes in meaning or misunderstanding, then it would be safer to say 'had already broken' (active past perfect of 'break').

Leaving the sentence the way it is is fine.

As to your second question, I'd recommend using 'the'.
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Hi Yankee

"However, there is a difference if 'had been broken' is used instead of 'were broken'. In the phrase 'were already broken', the word 'broken' is clearly an adjective and 'were' is the simple past tense, active voice. "

you mean passive voice?

(to be + past participle) verb phrases are called passive structures.

"There is no suggestion that the machines were broken by someone. It simply says the machines were already in a broken state." Yes

"If you change 'were already broken' to 'had already been broken', I'd understand the past perfect passive of the verb 'break' and therefore there would have an agent that/who did the breaking (...had been broken by someone). "

This is news to me.

To me the only difference is the tense of the passive.

Neither suggests who had broken it.

"And that would be a change in meaning." Really?

I am not sarcastic, mind.
Hi Inch

No, saying 'were already broken' is like saying 'were already nonfunctional' in this case. Broken is an adjective in the original sentence. The original sentence is not a case of the verb break in the simple past passive. The use of the word already also makes this clear. Without the word already in the original sentence, you could argue that a passive form of break was intended. But not with already in the sentence. There is no suggestion whatsoever of any agent in the original sentence. It's entirely possible that the machines simply broke because they were old, for example.

If you use 'break' in the passive voice, there is a suggestion of an agent and a person responsible -- whether or not an agent is actually stated. And suggesting that there was an agent is not what the original sentence intended to do.

The context of the sentence is also a court case. The judge was saying that 'the machines were nonfunctional before the strike began'. There was no blame assigned -- no one was made responsible for the broken machines and there was no suggestion that anyone was responsible at all. Possibly the machines broke on their own.

There was simply a completely neutral statement made that 'the machines were in a nonfunctional state already'.
"But not with already in the sentence."

I yield to your argument.

thanks
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YankeeI agree that the words already and before make the order of events clear.

However, there is a difference if 'had been broken' is used instead of 'were broken'. In the phrase 'were already broken', the word 'broken' is clearly an adjective and 'were' is the simple past tense, active voice of the verb 'be'. There is no suggestion that the machines were broken by someone. It simply says the machines were already in a broken state.

If you change 'were already broken' to 'had already been broken', I'd understand the past perfect passive of the verb 'break' and therefore there would have also been an agent that/who did the breaking (...had been broken by someone). And that would be a change in meaning.

In my opinion, if you want to use the past perfect in the sentence and also want to avoid changes in meaning or misunderstanding, then it would be safer to say 'had already broken' (active past perfect of 'break').

Leaving the sentence the way it is is fine.

As to your second question, I'd recommend using 'the'.
I tend to lean toward using “had been broken” since this is the state the machines were in for an unknown period of time and it’s prior to the strike.

“Broken” – no doubt is a past participle used as adjective. However, it didn’t suggest that the machine’s broken state was caused by and agent (sabotage or lack of maintenance); it merely describes the condition in which the machines were in.Emotion: big smile