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Learn about the Past Perfect Simple

Make sure you know how to use the past simple before you study this grammar.


Past Perfect Simple - Meaning

We use the past perfect to show that something happened before a time in the past. For example:

I'd seen the film 10 times before I was 12.

We also use it with states continuing until a past time.

I'd lived in France for three years before I got married.

Finally, we use it for past events with a past result, especially if the event is short, single, finished or we say how many. This meaning could be very similar to the first meaning.

He was angry because she'd eaten all his cake.

Past Perfect Simple - Structure

We make the past perfect simple using had + past participle (the third form of the verb, e.g. done, gone, written ...). It is the same for all people (I, you, he, she ...).

+He knew he'd studied this grammar before.
-He knew he hadn't studied this grammar before.
?Had he studied this grammar before?

Past Perfect or Present Perfect?

The past perfect connects two past events. The present perfect connects the past with the present. Compare the examples above with these similar examples in the present perfect.

I've seen this film 10 times. (before now)

I've lived in France for three years. (until now)

He's angry because she's eaten all his cake. (result now)

Confused? Try the practice exercises to help you understand better.

Past perfect practice

Next: Past Perfect Continuous