Past Tense Index / Past Simple / Past Simple further functions / Irregular Verbs / Past Continuous / Past Continuous further functions / Past Simple or Past Continuous / Used to / Present Perfect / Present Perfect further functions / Present Perfect Continuous / Present Perfect Simple or Continuous / Past Perfect / Past Perfect Continuous / Past Perfect Simple or Past Perfect Continuous / Future in the Past
+ Subject + HAD + Participle + Object
- Subject + HAD NOT (HADN'T) + Participle + Object
? HAD + Subject + BEEN + Participle + Object?
The Past Perfect is formed of the auxiliary verb Have in the past (Had for all forms) with the Participle (same of all forms)
The earlier/earliest action
We use the Past Perfect in combination with the Past Simple to show which action happened first. The past perfect is the earlier or earliest action.
I had been to Madrid before I went to Barcelona
The grammar always shows the earliest action, so it does not matter which order we say or write the actions.
I went to Barcelona after I had been to Madrid
Time up to a certain point in the past
We use the Past Perfect to talk about time up to a certain point in the past
I had lived in England before 2007
Past Perfect with Adverbs
We often use the adverbs "already", "still", "just", "ever" and "never" with the past perfect
I arrived at the station but the train had already left.
The play still hadn't finished when my mum called me.
We had just sat down when the phone rang
Had you ever visited Scotland before you moved there?
I'd never met anyone from Glasgow before I met Jimmy
B1 Resources coming soon
Past Perfect with Before
It is also possible to use the Past Perfect with before to show that the action was not complete or done when the past simple action happens.
She went before I'd spoken to her.
Titanic sank before she had finished her maiden voyage
If there is only one action or event we use the past simple, even if it happened a long time ago. The Past Perfect is always used in combination with other actions.
The Romans spoke Latin.
NOT: The Romans had spoken Latin
The Past Perfect is made of the past of have (HAD) which is the same for all forms and the Participle which is also the same for all forms. Most participles are the same as the past simple form but some irregular verbs do exist and they are explored here.