How to form and use the Past Perfect Simple?
Today’s lesson is all about the past perfect simple.
I noticed that a lot of English learners struggle with the use of the past perfect simple. There is no reason why its use should be difficult for you. Just think of the past perfect simple as the past form of the present perfect simple.
WHY USE THE PAST PERFECT SIMPLE?
The past perfect simple tense is used especially in reported speech after past verbs of saying and thinking to talk about things that had happened before the saying or thinking took place.
In order to grasp this better, think about it like this:
Imagine the past simple as the zero time, since it is the most typical past time. Now, the past perfect simple is one step further in the past from the past simple.
Now that I’ve gone through some basic things about the past perfect simple, it’s time to focus on its form.
· The past perfect simple is formed with had + past participle (ed-form) of the main verb.
· To make a positive sentence in the past perfect simple we have:
the subject + had + past participle of the main verb+ the object
I had lived in London before I moved to Paris.
· To make a negative sentence in the past perfect simple we have:
the subject + had + not + past participle of the main verb + the object
I had not lived in London before I moved to Paris.
o We can contract had not into hadn’t.
· To make an interrogative sentence in the past perfect simple we have:
Had + the subject + past participle of the main verb + the object
Had I lived in London before I moved to Paris?
Keep reading and learn MORE TIPS TO IMPROVE your English Grammar.
Except from being used in reported speech and as the past form of the present perfect simple, there are 3 most general uses of the past perfect simple. Let’s discuss each one in more details:
1. We use the past perfect simple for a past action which occurred before another action or before a stated past time. In other words, it is used to show which of the two events happened first.
The patient had died when the doctor arrived. – The patient was already dead when the doctor arrived.
o Note that sometimes the choice of past simple or past perfect makes a difference to the meaning.
For example: The patient died when the doctor arrived. - This would mean that the patient died at the time or just after the doctor arrived.
2. The past perfect simple is used for a complete past action which had visible results in the past.
Sue was sad because she had failed the test.
3. The past perfect simple sometimes functions simply as the past form of the present perfect simple.
Juliet is excited because she has never been to a dance before. – Juliet was excited because she had never been to a dance before.
Along with the general uses of the past perfect simple, you can also use it in these situations:
· To say that someone finished one action and then did something else, you can use:
when…had done – When Sarah had finished her homework, she went to the supermarket.
after…did/had done – After Sarah had finished her homework, she went to the supermarket.
· Some time expressions used with the past perfect simple are: for, since, already, after, just, never, yet, before, by, by the time.
· You can use the past perfect simple after if, wish, would rather to talk about past events that did not happen.
I wish you had told me the truth.
· You can also use the past perfect simple after it was the first/second…that… and similar structures.
It was the third time that he had asked me to go out with him.
· You can also use the past perfect simple to say how long something had continued up to a past moment.
When they got married, they had known each other for 10 years.
That’s it! Have fun! If you have any questions, leave a comment :)
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