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Session 65

Welcome to English In A Minute. Give us a minute and we'll give you a hot tip about English. Grammar, vocabulary... there's so much to learn! And all taught by your favourite BBC Learning English staff!

Activity 1

The past perfect tense

Do you have a minute to spare to learn some English? James is jumping with joy to tell us all about the past perfect tense!Give us 60 seconds and we'll give you the English!

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Hi, everyone! I'm James and today we're going to talk about the past perfect tense – how we form it and why we use it.

By the time I arrived at the airport, the plane had already left. In this example, had left is the past perfect tense. 

The structure for the past perfect tense is had + a past participle.

There are two past actions: arriving at the airport and the plane leaving. But which of these happened first? 

The clue is the past perfect tense. The action in the past perfect is the action that always happens first. Because the verb 'leave' is in the past perfect – had left – we know that this action happened first. The action that happened second is often in the past simple tense – in this example: 'I arrived'.

When you want to talk about two past actions, one which happened before the other, remember to use the past perfect for the first action and the past simple for the second.

Thanks for joining us for this English In A Minute.



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EIAM Teaser 6mingram_7_past_perfect.jpg TGGTeaser______________________________________________________________________________________________________

The past perfect tense

We form the past perfect tense with: had + a past participle verb

  • I hadn't sat down more than a minute when the phone rang!
  • I was already in trouble because I had left my keys at home.

We use the past perfect tense to talk about an action that happened before another action in the past. This other action is often in the past simple. No matter which sentence order the verbs appear in, the past perfect action always happened first in the events of time.

  • By the time I arrived at the airport, the plane had left.
  • The plane had already left by the time I arrived at the airport.


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