We use the past perfect simple (had + past participle) to talk about time up to a certain point in the past.

She'd published her first poem by the time she was eight.

We'd finished all the water before we were halfway up the mountain.

Had the parcel arrived when you called yesterday?

Or we can use Past perfect for the earlier of two past actions

We can use the past perfect to show the order of two past events. The past perfect shows the earlier action and the past simple shows the later action.

Past perfect with before

We can also use the past perfect followed by before to show that an action was not done or was incomplete when the past simple action happened.

They left before I'd spoken to them.

Sadly, the author died before he'd finished the series.


We often use the adverbs already (= 'before the specified time'), still (= as previously), just (= 'a very short time before the specified time'), ever (= 'at any time before the specified time') or never (= 'at no time before the specified time') with the past perfect.

What is the Past Perfect?

In your first lesson, we will review what the Past Perfect is used for and how it is used to help sequence events in the past. You will learn the difference between Present Perfect and Past Perfect.

Past Simple or Past Perfect?

Sometimes you want to describe an event in the past. A single event completed in the past is described using Past Simple.

However, sometimes you might want to describe something that happened before that event, so you have to use Past Perfect to create the correct sequence of events from a fixed point in time.

Past Perfect Continuous

Unlike the present perfect continuous, which indicates an action that began in the past and continued up to the present, the past perfect continuous is a verb tense that indicates something that began in the past, continued in the past, and also ended at a defined point in the past.

Past Perfect Continuous or Past Continuous

These 2 tenses work perfectly together to create natural sentences that describe sequences of events in the past in the best possible way. You should try to use at least one Past Perfect sentence in your IELTS essay.

Watch Again | Already, Yet, Just & Still

Watch this lesson on Already, Yet, Just & Still again to refresh your mind on how and why these words can be used with the Past Perfect, as well as the Present Perfect.

Past Perfect Exercises.pdf

Practice Makes Progress

Download your next worksheets and get studying the Past Perfect tense.

Present Perfect & Past Simple

Reported Speech