Past simple + past perfect
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Past simple vs. past perfect exercises + PDF worksheets
PDF exercises to download for free:
- Complete the story with the verbs in brackets:
It ___ (be) 11 o'clock. Carol Parker ___ (arrive) at the Shaw Hotel five minutes before.
- Use the clues in brackets to answer questions:
A: Why didn't he eat anything? (have lunch)
B: Because I ___ .
- Complete the text with the past simple or past perfect tense:
When I ___ (be) 18 years old I ___ (decide) to spend some time in America.
- Use the underlined word in each sentence to make questions:
A: I couldn't find my keys. I probably lost them.
B: ___ you ever ___ your keys before that?
- Find mistakes and correct them:
She played the flute and then she had sung in the choir.
Online exercises with answers:
- Join two sentences in one and keep the same meaning.
- Rewrite sentences with the past simple and past perfect.
- Tereza's story about her trip to Vermont.
- Carol got lost. Complete her story.
See more exercises + PDF worksheets:
Past simple exercises PDF Exercises with answers to download for free.
Past perfect exercises PDF Exercises with answers to download for free.
Grammar rules PDF:
Past tense rules PDF The past simple and continuous.
Past perfect rules PDF The past perfect simple and continuous.
English tenses PDF Grammar rules on all English tenses.
English grammar PDF All PDF rules on e-grammar.org.
Past perfect vs. past simple
The past simple is used for activities that happened some time ago (at 10 o'clock, yesterday, last week, three years ago).The past perfect is used for events that happened before a point in time in the past.
Past simple: Jim called Jane on the way back from work. He returned home at 4 o'clock.
(The sentence order is the same as the order of the activities. We use the past simple.)
Past perfect: Jim returned home at 4 o'clock. He had called Jane on the way back from work.
(These sentences are in a reversed order, because in reality, first Jim called Jane and then he returned. We use the past perfect to make it clear that Jim called Jane first.)
This difference is important. In some situations these two tenses have a completely different meaning.
I arrived at the garage. They told me to pay in cash. But I only had my credit card. I couldn't pay.
I arrived at the garage. They had told me to pay in cash. I paid and left immediately.
(In the first case I did not know that I had to pay in cash. They told me after my arrival.
In the second case I was informed before my arrival and had no problems.)
In time clauses
In time clauses after when we use the past simple if we want to say that the first activity led to the second and that the second followed the first very closely.
When the film ended he switched off the television.
The past perfect is used when we want to make it clear that the first event was completed before the second started and that there is no relation between them.
When Samantha had washed the dishes she had a cup of tea.
(We want to point out that Samantha washed the dishes first and then she had her cup of tea.)
But: When Samantha washed the dishes she put the plates in the cupboard.
(Here we describe the normal course of events.)
If we use after in a time clause the past perfect is much more usual.
After Zidane had scored the goal the fans went wild.
We use this tense similarly with: as soon as, until, before, by the time.
He got up as soon as he had heard the alarm clock.
We did not stop until we had reached the coast.
Maria had finished her meal by the time I arrived.
- All PDF exercises and grammar rules from this website.