Past Perfect and Past Simple Contrasted


1. Use

Past Perfect Past Simple
  • together with the Past Simple (When two past actions are combined – the first action, which was completed before the second one began, is put into Past Perfect.)
  • the past equivalent of the Present Perfect
  • action finished in the past
  • series of completed actions in the past

2. Signal words

Past Perfect Past Simple
no unambiguous ones
  • a week ago
  • last week
  • in 1999
  • yesterday

3. Form

Past Perfect Past Simple
had + past participle*
  • regular verbs: infinitive + ed
  • irregular verbs: 2nd column of the table of the irregular verbs

4. Examples

We use the the same form of the auxiliary (had) every time regardless the subject.

4.1. Affirmative sentences

  Past Perfect Past Simple
Long forms She had gone shopping. She went shopping.
Contracted forms Shed gone shopping. not possible

4.2. Negative sentences

  Past Perfect Past Simple
Long forms She had not gone shopping. She did not go shopping.
Contracted forms Shed not gone shopping. She didn’t go shopping.
She hadn’t gone shopping.

4.3. Questions

Past Perfect Past Simple
Had she gone shopping? Did she go shopping?

5. Spelling (Past Perfect and Past Simple)

  • stopped (Double the consonant after a short vowel.)
  • lived (one -e at the end of the word → Add only -d.)
  • hurried (consonant before -y → Change to -i.)

past participle:

  • regular verbs → infinitive + ed
  • irregular verbs → 3rd column of the table of the irregular verbs