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past perfect simple

Past perfect simple: 4 important uses

Past Perfect Simple vs Past Perfect Continuous

Past Perfect simple

A lot of learners of English ask these questions: ” What is the use of past perfect?”, ” How do we use past perfect simple?”, ” Can we use past simple instead of past perfect?”  In this post, we will answer all these questions about the past perfect tense.

Past perfect tense examples

  • I had finished my tasks when my boss came.
  • She had returned home before it started to rain.
  • When we arrived at the airport, the plane had taken off.
  • Had you finished preparing lunch by the time they arrived.
  • I had not finished cooking when they arrived.

Past perfect simple form

  • Past perfect simple is formed with the use of had and the past participle of the main verb.
  • We form questions by ‘had’ before the subject.
  • We for negations by putting ‘not’ after ‘had’ 

past perfect simple

Past perfect tense uses: 

1. The past perfect tense is used to show that one past event/action happened before another past event/action.

past perfect simple

 

  • When she arrived, he had left.
  • He had left when she arrived.
  • After I had eaten, I drunk a cup of tea.
  • The thief had gone before the police came.

2. It is used to express a past wish.

  • My grandmother wishes she had gone to school.
  • My friend didn’t pass his exam. He wishes he hadn’t wasted much time on social media.

3. We use the past perfect simple to show cause and effect.

  • She got a good mark because she had studied hard.
  • She was crying because someone had broken her favorite vase.

4. Past perfect simple is used in reported speech.

  • He said he had finished his work.
  • They told me that they had been to Turkey many times.

Past perfect time expressions

Past perfect simple is often used with the following words and phrases:

When, by, by the time, before, after, already, till/ until, and just.

Past perfect sentences with expressions

  • When I got to the train station, the train had left.
  • My boss hadn’t arrived at the office by the time I got there.
  • He had done all his homework before he watched the movie.
  • I took the decision after I had spoken to my dad.
  • The programme had just ended when I turned on the TV.

Remember:

Using the past simple or the past perfect simple can change the meaning of a sentence.

1. The train left when I arrived. (= I arrived and then the train left.)

2. The train had left when I arrived. ( = the train left and then I arrived.)

Past perfect tense exercises

A- Circle the right time expression

  1. I had yet/just finished watching a documentary when my friends knocked at the door.
  2. When I arrived at home, she still/ just hadn’t done her homework.
  3. By the time/while we got to the match, our team had scored 2 goals.
  4. We had finished our meal when/while she arrived.

B- Complete the sentences using the past perfect forms of the verbs between brackets.

  1. I could not buy it because I ………………………(spend) all my money.
  2. When my friend appeared, I ………………(start) the car.
  3. They didn’t do well in the test because they ……………………..(not/prepare) well for it.
  4. He got a higher mark in the exam because he ……………………(study) harder.
  5. After we (pass) ………………….the exam, we went out to celebrate.
  6. When we …………………(finish) eating lunch, we went for a walk.
  7. I ……………(go) to bed when Jack telephoned.
  8. Robert told me that his father …………………(travel) to Australia.
  9. I wish I …………..(not/attend) the party. 
  10. When the manager came back, Tim (contact)………………….ten customers.
  11. She said that she …………………….(try) to call me earlier.
  12. When I got home last night, I realized I ………….(lose) my keys.

Visitors also read: 

Past perfect simple: English language video

 

Past perfect continuous tense

Example: My father had been working for this multinational company for 20 years.

Form

subject + had been + verb + ing

Uses

1. We use past perfect continuous to show that an action started in the past and continued up until another action took place.

Examples:

  • They had been playing football when George broke his leg.
  • We had been watching a movie when the light went out.

2. Past perfect continuous tense is used to explain why an action or feeling occurred.

Examples:

  • I was very tired. I had been revising for the exam for more than four hours.
  • He put on weight because he had been overeating.

3. We use past perfect continuous to talk about the duration of an activity which continued up to a specified point in the past.

Examples:

  • I had been learning Chinese for 6 months before I moved to Beijing.
  • My dad had been working for 30 years when he retired.

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