Level: intermediate

The past perfect is made from the verb had and the past participle of a verb:

I had finished the work.
She had gone.

The past perfect continuous is made from had been and the -ing form of a verb:

had been working there for a year.
They had been painting the bedroom.

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:

  • 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.

For this use, we often use the past perfect continuous:

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 that happened several times before a point in the past and continued 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.

  • when we are reporting our experience up to a point in the past:

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 and is important at a later time in the past

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

We often use expressions with for and since with the past perfect:

I was sorry when the factory closed. I had worked there for ten years
I had been watching that programme every week since it started, but I missed the last episode.
 

We do not normally use the past perfect continuous with stative verbs. We use the past perfect simple instead:

Up until that moment, I'd never believed (NOT been believing) in astrology.

Past perfect

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Past perfect and past simple

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Past perfect and hypotheses

We can also use the past perfect to make hypotheses about the past (when we imagine something). See these pages:

Comments

What is the past perfect tense of ,"What shall we do?"

Hello Parva,

'Shall' is a modal verb and does not have a past perfect form. The perfect form of the modal would be 'should have', as in 'What should we have done?' but whether or not this is appropriate would depend on the context in which it is used.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

My question is related to the usage of "have had" , would it be correct to say

-As if you could'nt be any taller, you have had to wear heels too

Or would you rather say "you had to wear heels too".

The above statement is a present scenario .

Thanks

Hello Anubhav,

The correct form here would be ...you had to...

The meaning of had to here is similar to 'you chose to' or 'you insisted on' rather than expressing obligation.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks .. I get it now .. Could you also explain in what scenarios one would you "have had to" instead of have to

Hello again Anubhav,

I can't think of a context in which 'As if...' would be followed by '...would have had to...'

We use [would have + VERB3] for hypothetical/unreal situations, but 'as if' is not used to introduce conditional forms. We use 'as if' in the same way as 'as though': to show not a condition followed by a result, but rather the ironic surprise of the speaker at something they consider unnecessary or exaggerated.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

My bad .. what i meant to ask was what's the meaning of "have had to" like in following sentences and what is the general usage of "have had to"

1.Market organizers have had to be creative. ...... Here why can't i say have to be creative

2.Blackpool’s Liam Feeney admits they have had to find different ways of winning.... why not they have to

Thanks a lot

Hello Anubhav

'would have had' and 'have had' are not the same. 'have had' is the present perfect of 'have'. The present perfect and present forms have very similar meanings -- please see the Present tense section of our grammar reference and its different subpages for an explanation of the differences in meaning.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello - so would this sentence be correct then: "I had skipped breakfast, which made me so hungry" ?

Hello stanraw88

The verb forms in the sentence you ask about are grammatically correct, though without knowing what the context is, I can't really say whether they are correct for the situation.

People often use 'so' in this way in informal speaking, but I would recommend changing it to something like 'really' instead.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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