We use the verb had and the past participle for the past perfect:

I had finished the work.
She had gone .

The past perfect continuous is formed with had been and the -ing form of the verb:

I had been finishing the work
She had been going.

The past perfect is used in the same way as the present perfect, but it refers to a time in the past, not the present.

We use the past perfect tense:

  • for something that started in the past and continued up to a given time in the past:

When George died he and Anne had been married for nearly fifty years.
She didn’t want to move. She had lived in Liverpool all her life.

We normally use the past perfect continuous for this:

She didn’t want to move. She had been living in Liverpool all her life.
Everything was wet. It had been raining for hours.

  • for something we had done several times up to a point in the past and continued to do after that point:

He was a wonderful guitarist. He had been playing ever since he was a teenager.
He had written three books and he was working on another one.
I had been watching the programme every week, but I missed the last episode.

We often use a clause with since to show when something started in the past:

They had been staying with us since the previous week.
I was sorry when the factory closed. I had worked there since I left school.
I had been watching that programme every week since it started, but I missed the last episode.

  • when we are reporting our experience and including up to the (then) present:

My eighteenth birthday was the worst day I had ever had.
I was pleased to meet George. I hadn’t met him before, even though I had met his wife several times.

  • for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of reporting:

I couldn’t get into the house. I had lost my keys.
Teresa wasn’t at home. She had gone shopping.

We use the past perfect to talk about the past in conditions, hypotheses and wishes:

I would have helped him if he had asked.
It was very dangerous. What if you had got lost?
I wish I hadn’t spent so much money last month.

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

hello sir
he thanked me for what I had done or what i have done

Hello aseel aftab,

Both forms are possible here. Which is chosen depends upon how the speaker sees the action. If there is an evident present result then 'have' is more likely. If there was a result in the past (at the time of thanking, for example) then 'had' is more likely.

Context is crucial when dealing with aspect (perfective or progressive). It is difficult to comment on decontextualised examples such as this.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

I would like to ask which is correct:
1. Was he scolded?
2. Is he scolded?

I am confused when to use Is/Was if the verb is supposed to happen in the past.
For example:

Statement: The teacher caught Jean stealing exam questions the other day.
Question: Was he scolded? or Is he scolded?

Please clarify which of the question is correct.

P.S.
Did he get scolded? (is this the more 'correct' way of asking it?)

Best regards,
Eir

Hello Eir,

If the action happened in the past then the correct form is 'was scolded'. We would use the form 'is scolded' when talking about general time - things that happen typically or all the time rather than in one concrete instance.

As an aside, 'scold' is quite an unusual word with a rather literary ring to it. 'Tell off' is much more common in everyday conversation so the most likely question in your example would be Was he told off?

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

What is the difference between

"She didn’t want to move. She had lived in Liverpool all her life."
"She didn’t want to move. She had been living in Liverpool all her life."

Does the first sentence indicate that the action is finished, or the person had died? while the second sentence indicate that the person is still living in Liverpool?

Hello sandwich87,

It depends on the context, but probably it is more a difference of emphasis. The second one emphasises the moment in which she was considering moving a bit more than the first one, but otherwise, unless there were a very specific context that indicated the contrary, they mean the same thing. The emphasis the continuous form suggests could, for example, be a way the writer tries to get us to imagine her experience in that moment a bit more vividly.

It's a subtle difference that is difficult to explain, but I hope that helps you a little bit. If not, please ask us again.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

Hi,

1. What is difference between 'she went' and 'she had gone' ?

I would like to say that 'had' is used for past perfect tense i.e when two actions performed in the past then first actions should be expressed in the past perfect.
For example: She had gone to office before I reached home.
I this example 'she had gone' is the fist action completed and ' I reached home' is action took after the 1st action.

2. My doubt here is : Some times we mention had only for single action without mentioning the second action. Please see below examples
i. I had the time to help my daughter
ii. They had trouble remembering
iii. They have never had a course in money or how to invest it
iv. They had difficulty grasping the relationship between their Income Statement and their Balance Sheet

All the above four examples I got from the novel I was reading.

Please clarify my doubts.. as these doubt are hovering in my for few years.

Hi nareshk,

You are correct to a point when you say 'had' is used for past perfect tense i.e when two actions performed in the past then first actions should be expressed in the past perfect. However, there is more to it than this. First of all, the past perfect is formed not only with 'had' but with [had + past participle]. Second, there needs to be a relationship of some kind between the two actions. If we are simply describing actions which happen in sequence then the past simple is used:

I arrived at work and had a cup of coffee.

We use the past perfect when there is a relationship as well as a sequence:

I was late and she had already left.

 

 

Your examples are not examples of the past perfect. As I said, the past perfect needs [had + past participle]. Your examples are as follows:

 

i. I had the time to help my daughter [a normal past simple ('had') followed by an object ('the time'); the construction here is 'have the time/money/energy/motivation (etc) to do something']


ii. They had trouble remembering [another normal past simple ('had') followed by an object ('trouble')' the construction here is 'have trouble/problems/difficulty (etc) doing something]

 

iii. They have never had a course in money or how to invest it [a present perfect form using the verb 'have' ('have had')]

 

iv. They had difficulty grasping the relationship between their Income Statement and their Balance Sheet [see example ii above]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Good Morning,
As mentioned above ,[We use the verb had and the past participle for the past perfect:] and[The past perfect continuous is formed with had been and the -ing form of the verb:]

1) When George died he and Anne had been married for nearly fifty years.
2) She didn’t want to move. She had lived in Liverpool all her life.

in 1st sentence: had+married[past participle for marry] : then why been here and what does it mean by placing here.

In 2nd sentence had+lived[past participle] : why been is not used here.

I mean to ask , why sometimes we use had been and have been [ exculding the past perfect and present perfect continuous sentences] in a sentence, what does it means.

Hello asr09,

The form here is [have/has + past participle] or [had + past participle]. In your example 'been' is the past participle of the verb 'be':

They are (present)

They were (past)

They have been {present pefect)

'Married' here is an adjective. It has the same form as the past participle of the verb 'marry' but it is an adjective in this sentence, just as in the phrase 'a married couple'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Pages