Past perfect form and use – Grammar chart
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 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 got out of 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)