Past Perfect Simple
When do we use the Past Perfect Simple?
1. a finished action before a second point in the past
If we talk about the actions in the order they happened then we would use the Past Simple.
- The film started, we arrived at the cinema.
Sometimes we want to change the order, maybe to stress the most important point by putting it at the beginning of the sentence. When we do that we usually use the past perfect to make it clear which action happened first.
- When we arrived, the film had started (= first the film started, then we arrived).
If it is clear which action happened first (because we use words like ‘before’ or ‘after’, for example), the past perfect is optional.
- The film started before we arrived. / The film had started before we arrived.
2. to explain the connection between two past events
Sometimes it is clear the order past actions happened in, for example:
but to show that there is a connection between the two we emphasis this with the Past Perfect Simple
- I had eaten so I wasn’t hungry
3. to show something started in the past and continued up to another action in the past.
The past perfect simple simple tells us ‘how long’, just like the present perfect, but this time the action continues up to a point in the past rather than to the present.
- When I left the job I had worked there for 10 years.
4. as part of the 3rd conditional
To talk about unreal or imaginary things in the past.
- If I had studied I would have passed the exam.
5. Signal words
- not yet
- until that day
had + past participle – this is infinitive + ed or 3rd column of irregular verb table
7.1. Affirmative sentences in the Past Perfect Simple – regular verbs
7.2. Affirmative sentences in the Past Perfect Simple – irregular verbs
7.3. Negative sentences in the Past Perfect Simple – regular verbs
7.4. Negative sentences in the Past Perfect Simple– irregular verbs
7.5. Questions in the Past Perfect Simple – regular verbs
7.6. Questions in the Past Perfect Simple – irregular verbs