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Past perfect form and use – Grammar chart

Past perfect form and use

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Past perfect form

We make the past perfect with had/hadn’t + past participle-ed for regular verbs and the 3rd column form for irregular verbs.

  • I hadn’t been there before.
  • She had never worked.

The past perfect is the same for all the persons.

  • I/you/he/she/it/we/they had left when I arrived.

We can contract had to ‘d.

  • I called him, but he’d gone to a meeting. 

Past perfect use

We use the past perfect when we are talking about the past and then we want to talk about something that happened earlier in the past.

  • When I left work, I saw that somebody had stolen my car. 
  • Yesterday my mother told me that she had seen you in the park.

Past perfect or past simple?

We use the past simple to describe a series of past events in chronological order, and we use the past perfect to make clear that one of the events happened before. Compare these two sentences:

  • When I arrived, she left. (=She left after I arrived.)
  • When I arrived, she had left. (She left before I arrived.)

Be careful with this common mistake!

The contraction ‘d can be had or would. Remember that we use an infinitive form after would and a past participle after had.

  • I‘d love to go to your party. (= would)
  • I noticed that he‘d eaten my cake. (= had)