I'm learning english since 2013 and I've been learning a lot of sentences in Simple Past, Simple Presente, Future, Presente Perfect Continuous, Presente Perfect and Past Perfect.

I'm very confused about when can I use the Past Perfect.

Above all, there's a lot of tenses and I'm a little bit confused about when can I use each one...

Someone can help me please?

Thanks a lot!

4 Answers


ahenus 11540
past perfect is used when you want to stress that something happened before another past activity or a certain point of time. thus this activity is finished, similarly to past simple.

usually we use it with past simple, e.g. I had done the washing-up before I left the flat. you want to stress that you did not forget to do the washing-up before you left home.

we often use it with "never... before", like I had never seen such a film before (you tell this after watching the movie). in general, the use of past perfect is not very common.


about the usage of tenses (basically):

present simple: for habits, timetable activites

present continuous: at-the-moment activities, near-future plans, annoying habits (with always/constantly), temporary habits

present perfect: when the activity started in the past and is still going on, when the past activity has an effect/result in the present

present perfect continuous: when the continuity of the above mentioned activity matters and not the result

past simple: activity happened in the past

past continuous: past activity around a certain point of time or parallel activities in the past

past perfect: to stress a past activity that happened before another past activity

past perfect continuous: a past activity before another one and its continuity matters

future simple: spontaneous activity in the future

future continuous: a future activity around a certain future point of time

future perfect: by a future point of time, an activity will be finished


that's it, though i must say that half of these are more than enough to express what you want.


Past Perfect is used to show an action that occured before another one, both in the past. For example : I had paid the bill when he arrived.


Yousef 160

To help you understand and practice the past perfect tense, you ought to know that present perfect happens to occur with the past simple, normally in sentences containing two actions (verbs). One of the actions takes place in time before the other one.

Yesterday you arrived home at 6 pm

Yesterday your dad left home at 5:30 pm.

The two actions took place yesterday, but one of them (leaving) happened and was perfect before the other action started (arriving)

Imagine a timeline of the past, put the actions on it in there actual sequence and you'll find yourself saying / or writing:

Yesterday, I arrived home after my dad had left.  OR

My dad had (already) left hone when I arrived. OR

My dad had left before I arrived home yesterday.

This is my first participation in answering others' questions. I hope you find it helpful.






The PAST PERFECT is used when we wish to say that some action had been completed before another was commenced.  The verb expressing the previous action is put into PAST PERFECT TENSE  and the subsequent action is put into SIMPLE PAST.


Previous action(past perfect)                                       Subsequent action(simple past)

1. The train had left                                                       before I arrived.

2. I had finished my work                                               before you came.

3. The rain had stopped                                                  when she arrived.

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