We use the verb had and the past participle for the past perfect:

I had finished the work.
She had gone .

The past perfect continuous is formed with had been and the -ing form of the verb:

I had been finishing the work
She had been going.

The past perfect is used in the same way as the present perfect, but it refers to a time in the past, not the present.

We use the past perfect tense:

  • for something that started in the past and continued up to a given time in the past:

When George died he and Anne had been married for nearly fifty years.
She didn’t want to move. She had lived in Liverpool all her life.

We normally use the past perfect continuous for this:

She didn’t want to move. She had been living in Liverpool all her life.
Everything was wet. It had been raining for hours.

  • for something we had done several times up to a point in the past and continued to do after that point:

He was a wonderful guitarist. He had been playing ever since he was a teenager.
He had written three books and he was working on another one.
I had been watching the programme every week, but I missed the last episode.

We often use a clause with since to show when something started in the past:

They had been staying with us since the previous week.
I was sorry when the factory closed. I had worked there since I left school.
I had been watching that programme every week since it started, but I missed the last episode.

  • when we are reporting our experience and including up to the (then) present:

My eighteenth birthday was the worst day I had ever had.
I was pleased to meet George. I hadn’t met him before, even though I had met his wife several times.

  • for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of reporting:

I couldn’t get into the house. I had lost my keys.
Teresa wasn’t at home. She had gone shopping.

We use the past perfect to talk about the past in conditions, hypotheses and wishes:

I would have helped him if he had asked.
It was very dangerous. What if you had got lost?
I wish I hadn’t spent so much money last month.

Exercise

Comments

Hi,
Hope you are doing well, I would like you to explain the following one.

I know that if we use the "be with pastpatrticiable however, where we can use "Be with ing "( continues tense ) please explain

Hi Mohammed,

'be' is used to form any continuous tense -- please see our present continuous page for some examples.

Is that what you mean? I'm not sure I've understood your question. If you meant something else, please give us an example and we'll do our best to help you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Is this sentence correct?
No no has attended to fix it even though the visit had been cheduled for this Monday

Hello Joanna,

No, that sentence is not correct. I can't be completely sure, not knowing the full context, but I think what you want to say is probably this:

No-one has been to fix it, even though the visit was scheduled for Monday.

 

However, I think the natural way to express it would be as follows:

Someone was supposed to come on Monday, but we are still waiting.

 

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
Please let me know the following sentences are right or wrong because I have doubts.
While my mother was cooking, the power went off.
While my mother has been cooking, the power went off. ( I think this is wrong-present perfect cont.) but while my mother had been cooking, the power went off.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello Lal,

The first sentence is correct. The second, as you say, is not. This is because the verb 'went' describes an action in a finished time frame, whereas 'has been cooking' describes unfinished time.

You could say 'While my mother has been cooking, the phone has rung three times'. This would all refer to unfinished time, so it would mean that she was still cooking and the phone might ring again.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
One more question under the same (While my mother was cooking, the power went off.)
Can I say ?: While my mother had been cooking, the power went off.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hi Lal,

No, I'm afraid that's not correct. 'had been cooking' makes reference to some other past event that happened after the cooking, but no other such event is mentioned -- 'went off' describes an action that happened during the cooking, not after it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
Thanks a lot for your answers regarding perfect tenses.
Please help me regarding this,too..
They have been staying with us since previous month.
They had been staying with us since previous month.
Which one is correct? Both or one then which one.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hi Lal,

I'm afraid neither is correct, but both need only a minor change to make them correct. The second one would be correct if the word 'the' were inserted before 'previous' ('the previous month'). The first one would be correct if you changed 'previous' to 'last'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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