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.




'How I wish to get back is easy as I had lost my place'
Is it correct?

Hello MC,

I don't see any obvious errors in that sentence, though it's not completely clear to me what it means without knowing the context.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi everybody!
I have a general question:
How is it with adjectives and past perfect?
Is it: "He loudly had declared" or "He had loudly declared" ("had" beforé or after the adjective(s)?)

Are there any general rules, for instance:
had , or had

Thanks in advance!

Hello SpireUpDown,

The position of the adverb is quite flexible, but it does not generally come before the auxiliary verb. The most common positions are either before the main verb or at the end of the sentence, after the verb phrase, the object and any adverbials). For example:

He had loudly declared his loyalty.

He had declared his loyalty loudly.


He loudly had declared his loyalty.


They were slowly walking down the street.

They were walking down the street slowly.


They slowly were walking down the street.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, everybody .
Thanks for your great effort .
Could you explain the difference between :
I had lost my key .
I have lost my key .
Thank you anyway .

Hello zahret.alnargs,

Both sentences require a context to be fully understood.

The second sentence is an example of the present perfect. It describes an event (losing the keys) which happened before the present moment and is still relevant (I still haven't got my keys).

The second sentence is an example of the past perfect. It describes an event (losing the keys) which happened before a past moment and which was still relevant then (the speaker still didn't have the keys at that past moment). However, without some context which tells us when that past moment was we cannot be more specific. The past perfect is common in narratives, where the whole story is in the past and the past perfect describes something before an event in the story.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I couldn't give you proper time. sorry for that.
is it right?

Hello Anniu,

When apologising, 'about that' is normally used after 'sorry': 'sorry about that'. I'm afraid I'm not sure I understand what the first sentence means. By 'proper time' do you mean 'enough time', as in 'enough attention'? If you explain the context a bit, we can help you more effectively.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello 'LearnEnglish Team',
I am confused by the following example found in another English course:
"Stella called me from Nottingham the day before yesterday. I hadn't heard from her for ages. Not since she left university.".

Why not say "... Not since she had left university."?

The first event in chronological order was 'leaving university' followed by the phase of 'not hearing from her' followed by the event of "speaking to each other on the phone". In the recommended form above the first (oldest) event is in the past simple, the second (intermediate) in the past perfect and the third (latest) again in the past simple.

Hello espe,

You could certainly say 'had left' and in a formal style or situation when precision is important, then it would be better than 'left'. But in informal speech, people tend to choose the easier or shortest form that will make sense, and in this case that is 'left'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team