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English Grammar Reference: The Past Perfect Simple

We use the past perfect when there are 2 actions in the past. The first action is the past perfect and the second action is the past simple.

I had had breakfast before I went to work.

He had already finished school by the time he was 16.

We went to Wembley last night. We had never been there before.

Look at the construction:

Subject

had

past participle

 

I

had

finished

playing football when you called.

We
had
drunk
all the coke before they arrived.
They
had
gone
to bed by the time she got home.

The past perfect is more commonly used when we write. If you are telling a story, you are already in the past and so to talk about everything which happened before we should use the past perfect.

Look at the question form:

Question word

Auxiliary

Subject

Verb

 

 

Had

you

seen

"Dances with Wolves" before?

 

Had

you

ever

been to Scotland before last week?

Where

had

you

ever

lived before you moved here?