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

Comments

hellow sir!
i still get confused on when to use perfect and perfect continous tenses both in present and in past. what I understand is I use perfect tense when the action complete and perfect continous when the action is in progress. here i'm talking about the general usage. please clear help to clear my confusion
thank you

hi
help me to understand this. look at these two sentences
1. He had written three books and he was working on another one
2. He had been writting books
are these two sentences mean the same or not? if not what is the different between past perfect and past perfect continous?

Hello Opizzle,

No, these two sentences have different meanings. The past perfect simple indicates that an action was finished, whereas the past perfect continuous means that an action was in progress. In 1, three of this person's books were already finished at that time, but 2 implies that the books were not finished, as the person was still writing.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

thank you very much teacher

Hi
my question can out of the matter but i real have a problem on speaking english especially automatic one, here i mean i can't speak as native speaker. what should i do please?

Hello Opizzle,

To improve your speaking, ideally, you should speak with other people. Perhaps you can find a conversation group or speak with a colleague or friend who is also learning English. In addition, you can learn a lot on your own. Series 3 of the Elementary Podcasts - start with episode 1 - is a great place to start. First, listen to the one or two sections of the podcast, and then read the transcript (under Instructions & downloads) as you listen. Then work through the exercises that correspond to the sections you've listened to.

To work on improving your pronunciation and fluency, choose some useful phrases from what you've listened to and imitate their pronunciation - repeat those words and phrases many times. Pronounce whole phrases, not just words, because the pronunciation of words in English varies according to context. Repeat these phrases until they're relatively easy to say.

This is slow work, but you'll be building up a repertoire of phrases that you'll be able to use fluently in your speaking.

Good luck!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

thanks for the advice I'll work on it, hopefully it will help me

Hi teacher,
Can I use the future simple and past perfect tense in one sentence ?
For example: I'm describing he had preformed on the stage last week.

Thank you.

Hello Winnie,

"I'm describing what he had performed on stage last week" doesn't sound right to me, though perhaps in a very specific context it could work. Can you explain a bit more what you want to say and in which context? Do you perhaps mean "I'm going to describe what he performed on stage last week"?

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi to everyone !
I ve got a question about past perfect, so please help me

Well, I am going to put a couple sentences down so please could anyone helped me why in those examples had+V is used to reffer actions which are not "past in the past"

1. Before most people had ever heard of the digital currency, Brian thought it could make him a lot of money.
(Brian thought before most people - this is erlier action in the past, isn't it ? )
2. Everything had gone wrong from the moment she woke up.
( Everything had gone AFTER she woke up - why HAD+V to refer action which is closer to the present moment ? )

Thank in advance and sorry about my english :-)

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