Britlish

Past Perfect - GA10

Aspect and Tenses Course Grammar

Grammar

These Activities focus on the grammar of English. English grammar compared to other grammars is quite simple, but in its simplicity lies its complexity. The Activities here cover all aspects of English grammar from the aspects and tenses to sentence structures. English grammar covers the structure of words, phrases, clauses, sentences, and entire texts. There are eight parts of speech in English: nouns, determiners, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions. The largest of these parts of speech are the nouns which, unlike most European languages, do not have grammatical gender. English grammar has largely done away with the inflectional case system of other European languages and bases its grammar on analytic constructions. The Activities in this category will go some way to helping you get a better understanding of English grammar.    

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As you have already learnt, the past tense is indicted by the past forms of the three key verbs, do, be, and have. With do, the past is indicated by did for all persons. With be, the past is indicated by was for third persons, and were for all other persons. With have, the past is indicated by had for all persons. The past tense is shown by the inflected past form of the verb have, had, and this is used for all subjects. Past tense, perfect aspect is one of the least used of all the tense-aspect combinations in English. The past perfect has one main use and that it to talk about one thing that happened before another thing in the past. The past perfect basically talks about the past in the past. This British English grammar is essential for all students of English and the many exercises in the pack will help you master it quickly and enjoyably.    

Aspect and Tenses Course

Past Perfect

Grammar Activation Pack 10

Past Tense

As you have already learnt, the past tense is indicted by the past forms of the three key verbs, do, be, and have.

With do, the past is indicated by did.

With be, the past is indicated by was and were.

With have, the past is indicated by had.

Past Tense Have

The past tense is shown by the inflected past form of the verb have, had, and this is used for all subjects.

I had taught.

We had learnt.

You had learnt.

They had learnt.

He had learnt.

She had learnt.

It had learnt.

The perfect aspect = had plus past participle.

Affirmative Contractions

When we speak, we usually use contractions.

When written, a contraction uses an apostrophe to show that some letters are missing.

I’d taught.

We’d learnt.

You’d learnt.

They’d learnt.

He’d learnt.

She’d learnt.

It’d learnt.

The apostrophe in ’d marks the missing letters ha.

The perfect aspect = had plus past participle.

Past Perfect Closed Questions

Let’s take a look at the previous statements turned into past perfect closed questions.

Had I taught?

Had we learnt?

Had you learnt?

Had they learnt?

Had he learnt?

Had she learnt?

Had it learnt?

You can’t use contractions in questions.

The perfect aspect = had plus past participle.

5WH Questions

Let’s take a look at some examples of past tense, perfect aspect questions using the 5WH question words.

Why had I taught?

When had we learnt?

Where had you learnt?

How had they learnt?

What had he learnt?

Why had she learnt?

How had it learnt?

These open or 5WH questions get you more than the yes or no response of closed questions.

The perfect aspect = had plus past participle.

5WH Subject Questions

Past tense, perfect aspect subject questions replace the subject of the sentence with the question word who or, if the subject is not a person, what.

Who had taught?

Richard had taught.

What had learnt?

The machine had learnt.

Who had learnt?

My students had learnt.

What had learnt?

The machines had learnt.

The question words, who or what, give us the subject of the sentence.

The perfect aspect = had plus past participle.

Past Perfect Negative

Let’s take a look at some examples of past tense, perfect aspect, negative sentences.

I had not taught.

We had not learnt.

You had not learnt.

They had not learnt.

He had not learnt.

She had not learnt.

It had not learnt.

Negative sentences are very easy to form as you just have to put a not after the auxiliary had.

The perfect aspect = had plus past participle.

Negative Contractions

Contractions are often used in spoken English.

When written, a contraction uses an apostrophe to show that some letters are missing.

I hadn’t taught.

We hadn’t learnt.

You hadn’t learnt.

They hadn’t learnt.

He hadn’t learnt.

She hadn’t learnt.

It hadn’t learnt.

The apostrophe in n’t marks the missing letter O.

The perfect aspect = had plus past participle.

Negative Contractions

We can also contract the past tense, perfect aspect negative thus:

I’d not taught.

We’d not learnt.

You’d not learnt.

They’d not learnt.

He’d not learnt.

She’d not learnt.

It’d not learnt.

The apostrophe in ’d marks the missing letters ha.

The perfect aspect = had plus past participle.

Uses

Past tense, perfect aspect is one of the least used of all the tense-aspect combinations in English.

The past perfect has one main use and that it to talk about one thing that happened before another thing in the past.

The past perfect basically talks about the past in the past.

Past Continuous with Past Simple

Do you remember that Captain Britlish twisted his knee a few weeks ago? I’m happy to say that his knee got better. His knee is not twisted now and he is okay.

To tell this story we could use the past continuous with the past simple:

Captain Britlish was doing Kung Fu, when he twisted his knee. He went to the hospital. He got better.

Remember that the past simple talks about one event after another.

 

Past in the Past

We could also tell this story using the past continuous with the past perfect:

Captain Britlish was limping because he had twisted his knee when he was doing Kung Fu.

The past perfect tells us that Captain Britlish’s knee was twisted before he started limping.

 

Position Irrelevant

It does not matter where the past perfect comes in the sentence. The past perfect always refers to the past in the past.

Because he had twisted his knee when he was doing Kung Fu, Captain Britlish was limping.

Captain Britlish was limping after Kung Fu as he had twisted his knee.

How Long?

We use the past perfect to say how long something had occurred up to a time in the past when we use stative verbs like know – verbs we do not normally use in the continuous form.

Action verbs, those which we can use in the continuous form, use the past perfect continuous for this purpose.

Before Captain Britlish twisted his knee, Schwa had known him for many years and had been taking Kung Fu classes with him since they had first met.

Narrative Tense

Narrative tenses are used to talk about the past so that we can tell the story of the things that happened.

The past perfect allows us to more easily tell the story because it tells us what happened in the past of the past.

Schwa arrived late for Kung Fu practice with Captain Britlish. When she arrived, Captain Britlish was not there. He had twisted his knee and had gone to the hospital.

Before…

As with the present perfect, we can use the adverb before with the past perfect when it means at any time prior to the action spoken about by the past perfect.

I had done this before.

Had I done this before?

I had not done this before.

She had done that before.

Had she done that before?

She had not done that before.

Using Before

If we tell a story using the past perfect, we can use the adverb before.

Schwa had arrived late for Kung Fu practice before and when she arrived this time, Captain Britlish was not there, as he had twisted his knee and had gone to the hospital before she arrived.

Different Position, Same Meaning

Again, it does not matter where the past perfect comes in the sentence.

Before Schwa arrived, Captain Britlish had twisted his knee and had gone to the hospital.

Captain Britlish had twisted his knee and had gone to the hospital before Schwa arrived.

Past Perfect After Main Action

If we use before with the past perfect rather than with the past simple, the past perfect then refers to a time after the action of the main verb.

Captain Britlish twisted his knee and went to the hospital before Schwa had arrived.

This is very unusual for the past perfect which normally talks about the past in the past.

Past Perfect Before Main Action

If we use before with the past simple rather than with the past perfect then the past perfect refers to a time before the action of the main verb.

Before Captain Britlish twisted his knee and went to the hospital, his friend, Indigo, had arrived.

Captain Britlish’s friend, Indigo, had arrived before Captain Britlish twisted his knee and went to the hospital.

Past in the Past

So, we can see that the past perfect allows us to more easily tell a story because it tells us what happened in the past of the past.

Before Schwa arrived for Kung Fu practice, Indigo had already taken Captain Britlish to the hospital.

Indigo had already taken Captain Britlish to the hospital before Schwa arrived for Kung Fu practice.

Things that Failed to Happen

One other thing we can use the past perfect for is to talk about hopes or wishes that did not happen.

Captain Britlish had hoped to teach Schwa a new Kung Fu technique, but as he had twisted his knee and was in hospital, it was not possible.

As Captain Britlish had twisted his knee and was in hospital, it was not possible for him to teach Schwa the new Kung Fu technique he had hoped to teach.

Aspect and Tenses

A comprehensive English course covering the tenses and aspects of English in an easy-to-understand format with lots of self-test exercises to check your understanding. You will learn all you need to know about the 3 Key Verbs of English: Be, Do, Have. This course will let you see just how simple English grammar is. We will explore the present simple, the past simple, the present continuous, the post continuous, the present perfect and the present perfect past and present, along with present perfect time markers, the present perfect continuous, the past perfect and the past perfect continuous.

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Aspects and Tenses - GA1

Welcome to the first in my series of Grammar Activation Packs at Britlish.com. Together, the Grammar Activation Packs combine to provide you with a clear overview of English grammar in use. When I teach grammar to my students, I first teach them what I call the three keys to English grammar. The three keys are the three verbs, do, be, and have. Understand these three verbs and you will see just how easy English grammar really is. I have created some fun exercises to help you activate what you have learnt. This British English grammar is essential for all students of English and the many exercises in the pack will help you master it quickly and enjoyably.

Categories: Grammar | English in Use


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In the previous Grammar Activation Packs I have introduced you to the present and the past tenses, along with the simple, continuous, and perfect aspects. I also mentioned that English has only the two tenses, present and past. So where does this leave us when we want to talk about the future? Don’t worry, there are several ways that we can talk about the future, including using the present tense, which is what I am going to explain in this lesson. There are two aspects of the present tense that we can use to talk about the future. We can use the simple aspect which uses the auxiliary verb do. We can also use the continuous aspect, which uses the auxiliary verb be, and the ing form of a non-finite verb.    

Categories: Grammar | Phrasal Verbs


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Categories: Grammar


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