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 want to migrate to the other countries nor you would like to live or work  you must need to know if you are qualified for the immigrant visa's or appropriate job that suits you best. Whereas the areas of difficulties going to live in another place is very hard especially if you don't know what exactly your main reason to live in a foreign territory. You want to live there because you would like  to work ? Nor you want to go there as a tourist visitor? Hope that this will give you a hint's or guiding you what do you want to achieve your life in a near future. Thank you very much English team to provide some space here now I have time to express myself to the other nationalities as well. More power to all of you.

here's an extract from a grammar book:
We visited Switzerland four times during the 1970s.
I had stayed in the hotel twice in the 1980s.
(The sentences are from different Units)
What's the difference?
Why is it possible to use the past perfect in the second sentence?

Hello Honscho!

Without seeing the context of the sentences, it's hard to say. However, the past perfect sentence shows that something more important (the main time of the story) happened after the hotel visits:

I had visited the hotel twice in the 1980s, but I couldn't find it again when I went back there in 1992.
Have a look at our past perfect pages, or try searching for the past perfect in the search box on the right of the page for more examples.

Hope that helps!
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team


Thank you British council .. it is really useful

Hi LearnEnglish Team,
Can we use "had been + past participle" for the past perfect:
example : When George died he and Anne had been married for nearly fifty years.

Hello there Mohammed!
That is actually had been + -ed adjective. You can read about - ed adjectives here. Here, had been is the past perfect of is.
Hope that helps,
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello there.
I was wondering if there's any chance for me to find someone to practice English with via Skype, or in some other way. I don't want to sound like spam or something like that. I am 24 year old student of tourism from Serbia. I know some English but I'm desperate to get some experience in speaking, since I don't have much opportunities to speak in foreign language with anyone I know. I typed "learn English" in Twitter search box and this web site came up. So looking forward to your answer. If this message is against the rules of this web site, feel free to delete it and let me know.
Best wishes, Dragan Zoric Zorke.

Hello Dragan Zorkic Zorke!
Thanks for taking the time to introduce yourself, and welcome to LearnEnglish. I'm afraid, though, that our house rules do ask you not to share Skype information - this is to protect all our users.

Practising your English with no-one around can be tricky, but here are a few suggestions.

  • Use the comments section here to practice grammar and vocabulary. It's writing, but still useful.
  • Try to record yourself. Choose some of the discussion questions and go to a site like www.vocaroo.com, record your answers,  and playback your recording – what mistakes did you make? What do you like about your answer?
  • Keep listening to our recordings. One of the best ways to improve speaking... is listening!

Finally, remember you don't have to have a native speaker to talk to. Maybe a friend or colleague wants to talk English – ask around, and find someone who wants to practice.
Good luck, and keep working on it!
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

What is the difference between these two?
In the few seconds after she had downed the liquid, something had grabbed our new teacher and spirited her away from us.
In the few seconds after she had downed the liquid, something grabbed our new teacher and spirited her away from us.
Why is past perfect used twice in the top sentence when the meaning seems clearer in the sentence below?

Hello khmania777!
Both sentences are grammatically correct, although which is best might dpeend on the sentence that comes after it. In British English, we use the past perfect a little more often than in American English, but in these sentences, the difference is not important, and the meaning is clear in both.
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team