Past Perfect

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We use the past perfect simple to talk about what happened before a point in the past. It looks back from a point in the past to further in the past.

  • I hadn’t known the bad news when I spoke to him.
  • I checked with the supplier and they still hadn’t received the contract.
  • She had already told him before I got a chance to give him my version.
  • The company has started the year well but was badly hit by the postal strike.

The past perfect simple is often used when we report what people had said/thought/believed.

  • He told me they had already paid the bill.
  • He said he believed that John had moved to Italy.
  • I thought we had already decided on a name for this product.

We use the past perfect continuous to look back at a situation in progress.

  • It looked like a good time to invest. Inflation had been falling for several months.
  • Before I changed jobs, I had been working on a plan to reduce production costs.
  • We had been thinking about doing that but then decided against it.

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