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.




If you don't mind me asking so, could you explain why is it wrong.

Hello DilanS,

The form you have in the second sentence is as follows:

get something done - I got my house painted

This is similar to the form:

have something done - I had my house painted

Both of these forms are used when we have a service performed for us, usually for money. They are quite common in English. However these forms are only used with active voice; there is no passive form for these and that is why your first example is not correct English, because it is a passive form.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Team

Which tense (Past Simple or Past Perfect) should I use in sentences 1 to 5?
I have a feeling 1 and 2 are Past Simple, but I'm not sure about the others.
Could you help me out please?

1. Terry (played/had played) golf with his friends last night.

2. Mike (cleaned/had cleaned) his room on Tuesday.

3. The children (stayed/had stayed) under a tree for 2 hours during the big storm that night.

4. The doctor (examined/had examined) 7 patients that morning so he was very tired.

5. The small puppy (fetched/had fetched) the newspaper for its owner that morning.

Thanks for your help,


Hello Lexeus,

Both the past simple and the past perfect could work in those sentences depending on the context in which these sentences are found. I'd suggest you take a look at our talking about the past page - there you can find an explanation of how these two tenses work. 

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

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,


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.

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,
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!