Past perfect simple

( Free Online English Grammar Lessons )

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Past Perfect Simple Form : ( Had + past participle (verb 3) )

In English we use the past perfect when we are already talking about the past, and want to talk about an earlier past action. 

Notes for use of past perfect simple :

The past perfect simple is the same for all pronouns. Be careful - the contraction of 'had' can be confused with the contraction of 'would'. We can use 'by the time', 'when', 'because', 'so', 'before', 'after', 'as soon as' and 'until' to make sentences with the past perfect simple. 

The table below shows the different forms of past perfect simple :

Example verb : seeI / You / We / They / He / She / It
Positive...'d seen ...
Negative... hadn't seen ...
QuestionsHad ... seen?
Short answers

Yes, ... had. /

No, ... hadn't.

Past Perfect Simple Example sentences :

Positive Examples of Past Perfect Simple :

  • By the time we arrived, the film had already started.
  • Halfway through the film, I realised I had seen it before.
  • She only understood the movie because she had read the book.
  • I had never seen such a beautiful beach before I went to Kauai.
  • I did not have any money because I had lost my wallet.
  • Tony knew London so well because he had visited the city several times.

Negative Examples of Past Perfect Simple :

  • Kristine hadn't been to an opera before last night.
  • We were not able to get a hotel room because we had not booked in advance.
  • She hadn't seen a tiger in the wild before.

Question Examples of Past Perfect Simple :

  • Had Susan ever studied Thai before she moved to Thailand?
  • Had you ever visited the U.S. before your trip in 2006?
  • Where had he left the car before he went to the concert?

In English we don't have to use the past perfect simple with 'because', 'so', 'before', 'after', 'as soon as' or 'until' because the order of events is usually clear.

Example Sentences :

  • I (had) turned off the TV before i went to bed.
  • I waited until everyone (had) sat down at the table.

In English we often use the past perfect simple after 'knew', 'realised', 'thought', 'forgot' and 'remembered'.

Example Sentences :

  • I thought you'd forgotten our anniversary.
  • He realised he had left his laptop in the library.
Past perfect simple example sentences
I thought you had left Brighton forever.
Nope, I haven't seen anyone in the house.
Really, I hadn't noticed that.


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Be going to
Be going to passive
Be used to / Get used to
Comparative
Defining relative clause
Echo tag
Expression
First conditional
Future
Future continuous
Future perfect continuous
Future perfect passive
Future perfect simple
Future simple passive
Greeting
Have/Get something done
Imperative
Implied conditional
Indirect question
Infinitive of purpose
Interjection
Mixed conditional
Modal
Modal passive
Non-defining relative clause
Other
Past continuous
Past continuous passive
Past perfect continuous
Past perfect passive
Past perfect simple
Past simple
Past simple passive
Polite request / offer / suggestion
Present continuous
Present continuous passive
Present perfect continuous
Present perfect passive
Present perfect simple
Present simple
Present simple passive
Question tag
Reduced relative clause
Reported speech imperative
Reported speech question
Reported speech request
Reported speech statement
Second conditional
Short answer
Superlative
Third conditional
Used to / would (past habit)
Was/were going to
Was/were supposed to
Wish
Would rather
Zero conditional