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 Svitlana1992,

Yes, that sentence is quite correct. It is an example of the present perfect describing an action which began in the past and has an unfinished time reference (today has not ended yet).

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

If past perfect indicates the work completed action in the past then what about simple present. ?

For example: 1) I had gone to office. ( in past perfect )
2) I went to office ( in past simple)

As per the understanding both looks same.

Hello nareshk,

For completed actions in the past we use the past simple. In your examples, 'went' is correct.

 

We use the past perfect only when there is another point of reference in the past and we want to relate the action to this point of reference. We would not use the past perfect without this. Thus, your first example would not be correct as it stands; it would need some other time reference. For example, you might say:

I had gone to the office before she woke up. ['before she woke up' is the second time reference - another time in the past; the first action is before this and references it]

 

I had gone to the office early that morning. [part of a narrative in which all actions are in the past; the 'had gone' takes place in this past time frame before some subsequent event later in the past]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
It is alright to say: I have had lunch. I have just had lunch.
Could I use this in past perfect? eg. I had had lunch. I had just had lunch.
or should I use another phrase? eg I was hungry.
THANK YOU.

Hello Andrew international,
Those are all correct.
All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Could i have used " they were staying with us since last week" or when i use " since" it already applies to the perfect tenses??

Different subject : i think you're a teacher ( sorry , im new) you said somewhere that when we use " i would have ... ex liked" means that is not true. So if i want to say "why didnt you show me your work? i would have liked" is it wrong or does it mean im being false? Or was i nosy and misunderstood it all?

Thanks in advance

Hello Gabi rose,

'Since' carries with it a meaning of 'to the present time' and so we do not use it with verb forms showing finished time, like past forms. As you suggest, you need to use a perfect form here: They have been staying with us since...

I'm afraid I'm not sure I understand your second question. It's perfectly fine to ask something like:

Why didn't you show me your work? I would have liked to see it.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
I tend to use one 'had' to apply to multiple verbs that I mean to be in the past perfect tense. Eg 'No one knew whether Percy had jumped or been pushed' (as opposed to 'had been pushed'); 'The bear had eaten the tangerine, burped and departed'. Is this acceptable? Might readers find it jarring and 'amateurish'?
Pete.

Hello Hptd01,

In general, yes it's fine to omit auxiliary verbs when the context makes the meaning clear. Native speakers do this very often and so actually it's great that you also do this. The sentence about the bear is also fine, but I'm afraid it's difficult to generalise beyond that. I might suggest using the word 'then', e.g. '... had eaten the tangerine, then burped and left' just because it's typical in a sequence of actions, but it's certainly not necessary.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello teachers,

If i wanted to simply express the fact that an action has taken place in the past, i could use the simple past tense, as in "i lost my wallet". However, could i also mean the same thing by saying "i had lost my wallet"? I understand that one of the uses of the past perfect simple is to state that an action had occurred before another past action/time in the past, as in "i didn't handy any money because i had lost my wallet", but is it grammatical to state simply "i had lost my wallet." without any accompanying statement such as "i didn't have any money", to mean simply that an action occurred in the past?

Thank!

Regards,
tim

Pages