Past Perfect Simple
had + past participle, e.g. 3rd form of the verb
I had never seensuch a city before I visited Prague.
We had had that car for 15 years before it broke down.
1. A completed action before something in the past
The Past Perfect expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past. It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past.
- I had never seensuch a city before I visited Prague.
- Had you ever visited Paris before your trip in 2004?
- Yes, I had been to Paris once before in 1999.
2. Duration before something in the past (Non-Continuous Verbs)
With Non-Continuous Verbs and some Non-Continuous Uses of Mixed Verbs, we use the Past Perfect to show that something started in the past and continued until another action in the past.
- We had had that car for 15 years before it broke down.
- By the time Martin finished his university degree, he had been in London for more than seven years.
3. Specific times with the Past Perfect
If the Past Perfect action did occur at a specific time, the Simple Past can be used instead of the Past Perfect when “before” or “after” is used in the sentence. The words “before” and “after” actually tell you what happens first, so the Past Perfect is optional. Both sentences below are correct.
- He had visited his Indian relatives once in 1999 before he moved in with them in 2004.
- He visited his Indian relatives once in 1999 before he moved in with them in 2004.
If the Past Perfect action did not happen at a specific time, Past Perfect MUST be used at all times. Compare the two sentences below.
- She had never seen a tiger before she moved to Africa.Correct
- She never saw a tiger before she moved to Africa. Incorrect
4. Active / Passive voice
- Kate had taught many students before she received her teaching certificate. Active
- Many students had been taught by Kate before she received her teaching certificate. Passive