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.



Hello DilanS,

No, the first form is not correct in standard English, and might even be confusing in non-standard English. The second one is fine.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi team,

Could you please explain why I can't use "offered" in stead of "had offered" in the sentence below? Is that because the fact that David got t he job was important at the moment of speaking, hence perfect tense must be used?

Everything in Julie's life had been going well until her world fell apart just a month before. A large company had offered David an important position that would require him to move to France.

Also am I correct in understanding that when we tell a story, we have to change every tenses from present to past? ( I.e. simple present to simple past, present perfect to past perfect, and so on) Thanks

Hello Widescreen,

Here the past perfect is used to refer to something that happened at a previous past time. In other words, David was offered a job abroad and then her world started to fall apart. Using the past perfect form 'had offered' makes it clear that the offer came before her world starting to fall apart. It's possible to use the past simple form 'offered' instead, but it's unlikely because it doesn't show that the offer came first, which seems to be important here. You might want to take a look at our Quick grammar Past perfect page, as it explains this in some detail.

There are many ways to tell a story. Generally, past forms are used, for the most part in the ways you describe, but it's also possible to use present tenses as well. One great way to learn how to tell stories is to read them, which it sounds like you are already doing! I'd encourage you to keep it up.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

is this sentence grammatically correct ( i had of thinking) if it so ,what does it mean.is it similar to i had been thinking .

Hello DilanS,

No, I'm afraid that's not a correct sentence in English.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

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"