Past Perfect and Past Simple Contrasted


1. Use

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

3. Form

Past PerfectPast 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 PerfectPast Simple
Long formsShe had gone shopping.She went shopping.
Contracted formsShed gone shopping.not possible

4.2. Negative sentences

 Past PerfectPast Simple
Long formsShe had not gone shopping.She did not go shopping.
Contracted formsShed not gone shopping.She didn’t go shopping.
She hadn’t gone shopping.

4.3. Questions

Past PerfectPast 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