Past Perfect Simple

We use the Past Perfect Simple to talk about actions happening before other actions when telling stories or sequences of events. If you would like to learn more about this tense, you’ve come to the right place. Feel free to look around, learn, and practice.

We use the Past Perfect Simple to talk about:


When we arrived at the party Simon had already left.

It hadn’t finished raining before we had to go home.

Had Harry known about the party before the surprise?

* NOTE: We can usually use Past Perfect Simple with Past Simple to convey a sequence of actions in the past.

Compare the following:
Ron had just finished his homework when Leslie called.

(first Ron finished his homework then Leslie called)

* NOTE: Past Perfect Simple focuses more on the result. Whereas Past Perfect Continuous focuses more on the activity or duration of the action.

We had driven for three hours when we stopped to take a break.

We had been driving for three hours when we stopped to take a break.


I/you/we/they/he/she/it had/’d been/lived/done etc .
I/you/we/they/he/she/it had not/hadn’t/’d not been/lived/done etc .
Had I/you/we/they/he/she/it been/lived/done etc ?

* NOTE: Negative questions are also possible. We generally use them to show surprise,
disbelief, or shock.

Hadn’t he packed enough clothes for the entire week?

* NOTE: We often use for and since with perfect tenses to specify the duration of the time.