top of page


 + 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)

past simple form.jpg


  • 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

b2 resources banner 1.png

Explore the B2 materials archive here

C1 Resources coming soon

Featured Worksheet:

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

past simple spelling.jpg

Spelling notes

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.

past simple spelling 2.jpg
bottom of page