Past Perfect Simple

FORM

[had + past participle]

Examples:

  • 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.

 

Positive Negative Question
had finished. had not finished. Had I finished?
You had finished. You had not finished. Had you finished?
We had finished. We had not finished. Had we finished?
They had finished. They had not finished. Had they finished?
He had finished. He had not finished. Had he finished?
She had finished. She had not finished. Had she finished?
It had finished. It had not finished. Had it finished?

{Slider=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.

Examples:

  • I had never seen such a beautiful beach before I went to Samui.
  • 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.

{/slider}

With stative verbs we use the Past Perfect to show that something started in the past and continued up until another action in the past.

Examples:

  • 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.

FORM

[has/have + been + present participle]

Examples:

  • You have been waiting here for two hours.
  • Have you been waiting here for two hours?
  • You have not been waiting here for two hours.

We use the Present Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. "For five minutes," "for two weeks," and "since Tuesday" are all durations which can be used with the Present Perfect Continuous.

Examples:

  • They have been talking for the last hour.
  • She has been working at that company for three years.
  • What have you been doing for the last 30 minutes?
  • James has been teaching at the university since June.
  • We have been waiting here for over two hours!
  • Why has Nancy not been taking her medicine for the last three days?

You can also use the Present Perfect Continuous WITHOUT a duration such as "for two weeks." Without the duration, the tense has a more general meaning of "lately." We often use the words "lately" or "recently" to emphasize this meaning.

Examples:

  • Recently, I have been feeling really tired.
  • She has been watching too much television lately.
  • Have you been exercising lately?
  • Mary has been feeling a little depressed.
  • Lisa has not been practicing her English.
  • What have you been doing?