The past perfect tense

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This tense is formed with HAD and the PAST PARTICIPLE. It is therefore the same for all persons.

Ex. I had worked – I’d worked

He had not worked – He hadn’t worked

Had they worked?
Sometimes we talk about something that happened in the past :

This is the starting point of the story. Then if we want to talk about things that happened before this time, we use the past perfect.

  • When we got home last night, we found that somebody had broken into the flat.

  • Karen didn’t want to come to the cinema with us because she had already seen the film.

Compare :

present perfect

Past now

  • Who is that woman? I’ve never seen her before.

  • We aren’t hungry. We’ve just had lunch.

  • The house is dirty. They haven’t cleaned it for weeks.

Past perfect
Past now

  • I didn’t know who she was. I’d never seen her before (=before that time)

  • We weren’t hungry. We had just had lunch.

  • The house was dirty. They hadn’t cleaned it for weeks.

Compare the past perfect and the past simple

  • Was Tom at the party when you arrived?” “No, he had already gone home”

but “Was Tom there when you arrived?” “Yes, but he went home soon afterwards.”

  • Ann wasn’t at home when I phoned. She was in London..

But Ann had just got home when I phoned: She had been in London.

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