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

it's really made me confused too. I don't know which rules applied for this.

Instead of "They HAD been staying with us since the previous week" as stated above, wouldn't it be better to say: They HAVE been staying with us since the previous week?

Hi eugbukh!
This page is about the past perfect, which we use when we are talking about past events. For example, this sentence could be used like this:
 
My brother and his wife left last Monday. They had been staying with us since the previous week.
 
We use previous because this means the week before whenever you are talking about.
 
You could say:
 
My brother and his wife are leaving today. They have been staying with us since last week.
 
but this has a different meaning,and uses the present perfect. It uses last because we don't use previous to mean the week just before this one. You can read more about the differet perfect tenses on our perfective aspect page.
 
Hope that helps!
 
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I am trying to improve communication skills for four years. but I am getting stuck, I am 27 years old, Please someone tell the right way to be fluent and improve my proununciation

Hello rashidalikhan1985!
 
You're not alone! After my students have studied for a while, they also feel they stop improving. Actually, you are still improving, but not as fast as a beginner does – this is normal, and you shouldn't feel bad about it.
 
To improve your communication skills, try talking as much English as you can. If you can't talk to native speakers, maybe a friend is also learning English. Try practising with them. For pronunciation, remember that listening is very important, and we have lots of listening resources – like our Elementary Podcasts to help you. We've also got a pronunciation course coming, so watch out for that!
 
Best wishes,
 
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

DeaR AdmIN
 i want to know how i can learn english here 
and how i can go to usa ??>>>i must win on something ???

Dear Bader,
You learn English here by reading, listening or watching the English on our pages and doing the exercises.
I don't know the best way for you to go to the USA or any other country, because it depends a lot on visas - this website is more about Learning English than travel, although we try to help if we can!
Best wishes,
Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear British Council
 
Thank you for help me to understand the British English! 
 

are you have english by fluent ?
 

hi, I am new. I come from Vietnam and I want to improve my English.That is very important with me.
regards

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