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

Hello buguniao,

The first sentence is an example of the past perfect, and the second of the past simple.

  • We use the past simple when an action happens in the past.
  • We use the past perfect when an action happens in the past and is before another event, which it influences in some way.

It is the same relationship as the present perfect and the present:

  • We use the present perfect for an action before the present which influences a present action or state in some way.
  • We use the past perfect for an action before the present which influenced a past action or state in some way.

The first sentence does not make sense unless there is another event in the past referred to in another sentence.

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello
please i want to know when the past perfect come with the present in a sentence.

Hello shaimaas,

It's difficult to provide a rule for such a general question as all sorts of tenses can be used in sentences in different ways. Perhaps you could provide an example of a sentence which you are thinking about and we'll tell you if it is correct, or how it might be corrected.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Is it right to say "he has left" to mean one has gone?

Hello lorshefabian,

Yes, as you can see in our dictionary (see the Cambridge Dictionaries Online searchbox on the lower right), 'leave' means to go away from a place or person.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I noticed you teach past perfect and continuous at the same page.
If I understand it right. The example of use is similar however when you use had+ been +ing you refer to continuous and when had+ past participle you refer to past perfect?

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.

As in here the second " had written" is 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.

And here the last sentence refer to past perfect(?)

As well as here in ' since' section: it's not clear what tense you refer too..can I understand that when you use the had+ past participle you refer to past perfect and when using Had+ been+ ing you refer to continuous?
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.

Hello Kile13,

Yes, on this page we refer to the form had + past participle (2 words) as the 'past perfect'. More specifically, one could call it the 'past perfect simple' (to contrast it with the 'past perfect continuous'), though we, like many others involved in teaching English, often just refer to the 'past perfect simple' as the 'past perfect'.

The 'past perfect continuous' is indeed formed with had + been (= the past participle of the auxiliary verb 'be') + -ing form (3 words).

I think you have asked some other questions, but I'm afraid it's not completely clear to me what they are. Now that your question about what we call these two different but related forms is answered, could you please ask the other part again? Just one or two examples will be enough.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

... And for last question if you might know about this...I am working through iPad and the exercise in flash isn't working for me. Do you happens to know why is it so?
Thank you
Kile

Hello Kile,

Our exercises are made with Flash, and so unfortunately don't work on the iPad. We're working on a solution to this, but I'm afraid it will be some time before we're able to implement it.

I deleted the rest of your comment and want to explain why. For one thing, a lot of the text is already found on this page - there was no need to repeat it. The second part of your comment was from another webpage. We don't want to publish content from another webpage, just as we don't want others to publish our content on their websites. Another point is that we don't have time to read such long comments in which we have to go looking for the questions. Finally, long comments make the page less useful for other users.

So please keep your questions short, and ask only one per comment. If you have several questions, please post them in separate comments and we'll get to them as we can. Thanks for your understanding.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

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.

All this examples refers to past perfect only? Or also continiouous? And if so how it applicable to the continiouous ?

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