grammar training
Past Perfect

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Past Perfect – прошедшее совершенное время
When we talk about something that happened in the past we sometimes want to refer back to something that happened before that time in the past.

We can use the Past Perfect tense to do this.


The Past Perfect Formula:

had + past participle

For example:

Look at these two sentences.

  • Steve left the house at 7:30 yesterday morning.
  • Alice rang Steve's doorbell at 8:15 yesterday.

Both actions happened in the past so we use Past Simple tense.
But look at how we can combine the sentences.

  • Alice rang Steve's doorbell at 8:15 yesterday but Steve had already left the house.

So, we use Past Perfect (had left) because the action happened before another action in the past (Alice rang the doorbell.)Look at some more examples of the Past Perfect.

  • I had eaten dinner so I wasn't hungry.
  • It had snowed all night, so the bus didn't arrive on time


How to Use the Past Perfect


  • Statement: Alex had studied English before he moved to Europe.
  • Question: Had he studied English before he moved to Europe?
  • Negative: He had not studied English before he moved to Europe.

When to Use the Past Perfect

USE 1 Completed action before something in the past – завершенное действие перед событием в прошлом
The past perfect expresses the idea that something happened before another action in the past. It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past.

Examples:

  • I had never seen such a beautiful park before I went to your city.
  • I did not have any money because I had lost my wallet.
  • Gabby knew Morocco so well because she had visited the country several times.

USE 2 Duration before something in the past – продолжительное действие перед событием в прошлом
We use the past perfect to show that something started in the past and continued up until another action in the past.

Examples:

  • We had had that car for ten years before it broke down.
  • By the time Elisa finished her studies, she had been in London for over eight years.

Please Note:

If the past perfect action did happen at a specific time, Simple Past can be used instead of Past Perfect when "before" or "after" is used in the sentence.
The words "before" and "after" actually tell you what happens first, so the Past Perfect is optional.
For this reason, both sentences below are correct:

  • She had visited her Japanese relatives once in 2013 before she moved in with them in 2016.
  • She visited her Japanese relatives once in 2013 before she moved in with them in 2016.
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