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 tense uses:
1. The past perfect tense is used to show that one past event/action happened before another past event/action.
- 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.
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
- I had yet/just finished watching a documentary when my friends knocked at the door.
- When I arrived at home, she still/ just hadn’t done her homework.
- By the time/while we got to the match, our team had scored 2 goals.
- We had finished our meal when/while she arrived.
B- Complete the sentences using the past perfect forms of the verbs between brackets.
- I could not buy it because I ………………………(spend) all my money.
- When my friend appeared, I ………………(start) the car.
- They didn’t do well in the test because they ……………………..(not/prepare) well for it.
- He got a higher mark in the exam because he ……………………(study) harder.
- After we (pass) ………………….the exam, we went out to celebrate.
- When we …………………(finish) eating lunch, we went for a walk.
- I ……………(go) to bed when Jack telephoned.
- Robert told me that his father …………………(travel) to Australia.
- I wish I …………..(not/attend) the party.
- When the manager came back, Tim (contact)………………….ten customers.
- She said that she …………………….(try) to call me earlier.
- When I got home last night, I realized I ………….(lose) my keys.
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Past perfect continuous tense
Example: My father had been working for this multinational company for 20 years.
subject + had been + verb + ing
1. We use past perfect continuous to show that an action started in the past and continued up until another action took place.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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