Past Perfect – Simple Past – contrasted

1. Use

Past Perfect Simple Past
  • together with the Simple Past (When two past actions are combined – the first action, which was completed before the second one began, is put into Past Perfect.)
  • the past equivalent of the Present Perfect
  • action finished in the past
  • series of completed actions in the past
Past Perfect – Simple Past

2. Signal words

Past Perfect Simple Past
no unambiguous ones
  • yesterday
  • last week
  • a month ago
  • in 2010

3. Form

Past Perfect Simple Past
had + past participle*
  • regular verbs: infinitive + ed
  • irregular verbs: 2nd column of the table of the irregular verbs

4. Examples

We use the the same form of the auxiliary (had) every time regardless the subject.

4.1. Affirmative sentences

  Past Perfect Simple Past
Long forms He had played hockey. He played hockey.
Contracted forms He'd played hockey. not possible

4.2. Negative sentences

  Past Perfect Simple Past
Long forms He had not played hockey. He did not play hockey.
Contracted forms He'd not played hockey. He didn't play hockey.
He hadn't played hockey.

4.3. Questions

Past Perfect Simple Past
Had he played hockey? Did he play hockey?

5. Spelling (Past Perfect and Simple Past)

  • stopped (Double the consonant after a short vowel.)
  • loved (one -e at the end of the word → Add only -d.)
  • worried (consonant before -y → Change to -i.)

* past participle:

  • regular verbs → infinitive + -ed
  • irregular verbs → 3rd column of the table of the irregular verbs