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

what the different between "have" and "had"

Hello fahri_nusantara,

'Have' is the present or infinitive form of the verb; 'had' is the past form or the past participle.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
Please tell me whether the following are correct or not:
When I came home, my wife had been cooking.
When I came home, my wife was cooking.
I had been watching TV when the door bell rang.
I was watching TV when the door bell rang.
When I arrived at the station the train had left.
Thank you.
Regards

Hi sir,

In sentence construction, should I always write adjective before noun? A quick increase. And adverb after verb? it increase quickly?.

Thank you

Hello mark,

Adjectives nearly always come before nouns. The placement of adverbs varies quite a lot. I'd suggest reading through our Adverbials section to begin with, and the dictionary will also often be helpful.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Please advice me in my comment I really need it since I'll take IELTS exam in no time. Thank you so much guys!

Hi,
Should I always use past perfect when I say an action completed in the past when overtaken by another past action?
E.g. I had worked as a nurse before I resigned.

Past progressive when an action going on in the past when overtaken by another past action.
E.g. I was working as a staff nurse then I resigned.
Past perfect progressive when an action going on In the past for specific time period when overtaken by another acrion in the past.
E.g. I had been working as a staff nurse for about 3 years before I resigned.

Can I put a time period like for a year,hours in these 3 tenses?
Thank you!

Hi mark roi,

These are quite complex questions and it is not really possible for us to go into great depth in the comments section of the site. For questions like these the appropriate person to help you is your teacher - we cannot offer online lessons! However, I will give you the brief answers possible in this space.

The past perfect is common when one action interrupts or 'overtakes' another. However, it is not always used. The speaker has some latitude in choosing the form which seems to him or her to best express the idea. For example, all of the following are grammatially correct:

I had worked as a nurse before I resigned.

I worked as a nurse before I resigned.

I had been working as a nurse before I resigned.

I was working worked as a nurse before I resigned.

In choosing which to use the speaker is effectively emphasising which aspects of the situation are particularly relevant or important. A time period can be added to any of these other than the last one (past progressive).

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi sir,

How about this,

2 weeks ago, I was walking on the sidewalk then it rained suddenly. So, I stopped immediately in a waiting shed to avoid getting wet.

*I used past continuous to express the idea that I was walking before it rained and I stopped walking while raining. Is it correct?

But I read that in past continuous, the shorter action (it rained) is in simple past and it may or may not interrupt the action in progress (I was walking).

E.g. while raining, i was walking on the sidewalk. It is also correct?

Thank you

Hi mark roi,

First of all, your final sentence is not correct. When we use a participle clause like 'While raining' it has the same subject as the main clause, and so this would mean that you are raining (as if you were a cloud!).

The action in the continuous form is the action which is interrupted. I would avoid thinking of the actions as longer or shorter, however.

The natural way to say your sentence would be to use the phrase 'start raining' rather than 'rain':

2 weeks ago, I was walking on the sidewalk then it suddely started to rain.

This makes it clear that it was the onset of rain that caused you to take shelter.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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