[had + past participle]
- You had studied English before you moved to New York.
- Had you studied English before you moved to New York?
- You had not studied English before you moved to New York.
USE 1 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 seen such a beautiful beach before I went to Kauai.
- I did not have any money because I had lost my wallet.
- Tony knew Istanbul so well because he had visited the city several times.
- Had Susan ever studied Thai before she moved to Thailand?
- She only understood the movie because she had read the book.
- Kristine had never been to an opera before last night.
- We were not able to get a hotel room because we had not booked in advance.
- A: Had you ever visited the U.S. before your trip in 2006?
B: Yes, I had been to the U.S. once before.
- We had had that car for ten years before it broke down.
- By the time Alex finished his studies, he had been in London for over eight years.
- They felt bad about selling the house because they had owned it for more than forty years.
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. For this reason, both sentences below are correct.
- She had visited her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she moved in with them in 1996.
- She visited her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she moved in with them in 1996.
If the Past Perfect is not referring to an action at a specific time, Past Perfect is not optional. Compare the examples below. Here Past Perfect is referring to a lack of experience rather than an action at a specific time. For this reason, Simple Past cannot be used.
- She never saw a bear before she moved to Alaska. Not Correct
- She had never seen a bear before she moved to Alaska. Correct
The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.
- You had previously studied English before you moved to New York.
- Had you previously studied English before you moved to New York?
ACTIVE / PASSIVE
- George had repaired many cars before he received his mechanic’s license. Active
- Many cars had been repaired by George before he received his mechanic’s license. Passive
EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS
- Verb Tense Exercise 11 Simple Past and Past Perfect
- Verb Tense Exercise 12 Simple Past, Present Perfect, and Past Perfect
- Verb Tense Exercise 13 Past Perfect and Past Perfect Continuous
- Verb Tense Exercise 14 Present Perfect, Past Perfect, Present Perfect Continuous, and Past Perfect Continuous
- Verb Tense Exercise 17 Present and Past Tense Review
- Verb Tense Practice Test Cumulative Verb Tense Review
- Verb Tense Final Test Cumulative Verb Tense Review