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Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Past Perfect Tense Simple & Continuous Explanations



Affirmative  – S +Had + 3rd form of verb
Interrogative – Had + S + 3rd form of verb
Negative – S + had + negation + 3rd form of verb

Using the Past Perfect

The past perfect tense is most often used for the following:

1: The Past Perfect expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past. 
It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past.

I had never seen such a beautiful beach before I went to Kauai.

I did not have any money because I had lost my wallet.

Tony knew Istanbul so well because he had visited the city several times.

Had Susan ever studied Thai before she moved to Thailand?

She only understood the movie because she had read the book.

Kristine had never been to an opera before last night.

We were not able to get a hotel room because we had not booked in advance.

A: Had you ever visited the U.S. before your trip in 2006?

B: Yes, I had been to the U.S. once before.

2: With Non Continuous verbs

With Non-Continuous Verbs we use the Past Perfect to show that something started in the past and continued up until another action in the past.


We had had that car for ten years before it broke down.

By the time Alex finished his studies, he had been in London for over eight years.

They felt bad about selling the house because they had owned it for more than forty years.

3: In reported speech

The past perfect is common when we report people's words or thoughts .., as in the following examples:

John said that he had never eaten sushi before.

She told me that she had finished, but I knew she had not.

She wondered why he had been so unkind to her.

He told me he hadn't done his homework, but he hoped to finish it on the bus.

I thought I had sent her a birthday card, but I was wrong.

4. If Clauses

The past perfect tense is used in unreal or hypothetical situations, as in the following sentences:

If I had known you were in Frankfurt, I would have called you. (but I didn't know you were here so I didn't call you!)

If I had had enough money, I would have bought you a better present. (but I didn't have enough money.)

I would have been very angry if you had laughed when I got the answer wrong. (but you didn't laugh, so I wasn't angry.)

She wouldn't have been able to finish, if you hadn't helped her. (but you did help her and she did finish.)
I wish I had studied for my exams. (but I didn't study - and I got bad grades!)

I would have been in big trouble if you hadn't helped me. (but you did help me so I stayed out of trouble.)


Had you helped her, she would have passed the exams.

5. the past perfect equivalent of the Present Perfect

He had played hockey.
Present Perfect
Past Perfect
The bike is new. I have bought it.
The bike was new. I had bought it.



The past perfect continuous tense is made with the auxiliaries had been + present participle (-ing ending, e.g. working, trying, writing, singing ... )
Positive statement: I had been doing. 
Negative statement: I had not been doing. 
Question form: Had I been doing?
Negative question: Had I not been doing?

It is used for activities that began before a point of time and were still continuing at that point of time.
Last summer Josh had been renovating his house for two years. (He started three years ago and last summer he was still renovating his house.)

The past perfect continous and the present perfect continuous are basically very similar. The difference is, however, that in the present perfect we refer to the present times.
I have been practising since morning. (I am still practising.)
At 11 o'clock I had been practising for two hours. (I began at 9 o'clock and at 11 o'clock I was still practising.)

The past perfect simple vs past perfect continuous

For activities that can continue for a long time we can use both the simple and continuous (work, run, study, travel, sleep ...). 
There is practically no difference in meaning, but the continuous is more usual in English.

Stephen was pretty tired. He had worked all day.

Stephen was pretty tired. He had been working all day.

In other cases these two forms have a completely different meaning.

Before midnight Paul had translated the article. (He finished his work.)

Before midnight Paul had been translating the article. (He did not finish it. He was still translating at that moment.)

If we refer to a number of individual events or events that were repeated, we must use the simple.

Before the lesson ended they had written three tests. (three individual completed activities)

It was exhausting. They had been writing tests since the lessons started. (one uninterrupted incomplete activity)

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