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Unit 4 past time 2
Past Perfect: form A
The Past Perfect is formed with the auxiliary had and the past participle. In speech and informal writing had is contracted to ‘d.
I had (‘d) already decided to do before he called me.
Negatives are formed with not and contractions are used (hadn’t). Questions are formed by inverting the subject and had.
At that time I still hadn’t decided what to do.
Had you already decided what to do before he called you?
Past Perfect: uses B
The Past Perfect is used to show clearly that one past event happened before another past event. We use the Past Perfect for the earlier event:
On the New York Stock Exchange the Nasdaq Index had opened higher, but
fell back to 1,578 in morning trading.
Compare these examples which describe exactly the same situation:
1. Sue left at 2 pm. We arrived at her office at 2.30. (both verbs in Past
2. When we arrived at Sue’s office, she had left. (earlier action in Past
In example 1 the two actions are separate in the mind of the speaker. In example 2 there is a stronger connection between the two actions and the Past Perfect emphasises which happened first.
The Past Perfect is often used with verbs of thinking like know, remember, realise, be sure, think.
David knew he’d seen her somewhere before, but he couldn’t remember
When I got to the office I realised I’d left all my papers behind.
Past Perfect: time expressions C
The new CEO will be taking over in January.
(= taking responsibility)
Around 1993 Korean corporations started turning to Park to acquire companies in the US or Europe. By this time, he had built up sufficient contracts to help them.
PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS
Past Perfect Continuous: form D
The Past Perfect Continuous is formed with the auxiliary had been and the
-ing form of the main verb. Contractions are used.
I’d been working on the project for two months before they decided to cancel it.
Negatives are formed with had not been and the -ing form of the main verb.
Questions are formed by inverting the subject and had.
I hadn’t been sleeping well, so I was quite tired.
Had you been working for a long time on the project before they cancelled it?
Past Perfect Continuous: uses E
The Past Perfect Continuous is used to describe a situation that was in progress up to a certain point in the past. It often emphasises the duration of time.
Before he left IBM Plattner had been putting together a software package for the UK-based chemical company ICI. He had been working on this project during 1971 and 1972.
The Past Perfect and the Past Perfect Continuous both look back from a point in the past. The Past Perfect looks back at an earlier event. The Past Perfect Continuous looks back at a situation in progress.
The economic situation was quite healthy. The central bank had lowered
interest rates because inflation had been falling steadily for several years.
Used to/would + infinitive F
Used to describes a habit or state in the past. There is no present form (for present habits we use the Present Simple).
I used to work in marketing. (= but now I work in another area)
(= get rid of it, dispose of it)
He used to be really enthusiastic about his job. (= but now he isn’t)
Note that used to is used for habits and repeated actions, not single events.
I went to the Milan Fashion Show for the first time last month.
(NOT I used to go)
With negatives and questions used to becomes use to.
Did you use to work in marketing? I didn’t use to work in marketing.
Would is used in the same way as used to, but it only describes repeated actions in the past, not states.
In the old days we used to/would make three copies of every documents for the files.
Our company used to belong to an American multinational.
(NOT would belong)
Would is more common in descriptive writing than in speech.
(= refused, said ‘no’ to)
PRACTICE PAST TIME
Exercise 1 (A, B, F)
Underline the correct words. This exercise includes examples of the Past Perfect, used to, the Past Simple and Past Continuous.
1 While I looked / was looking for my keys, I suddenly remembered I left / had left
them at home.
2 In those days the unions used to / had used to go on strike whenever there was /
was being a problem.
3 After they were buying / had bought the company, they started / were starting to make a lot of people redundant.
4 Jack used to have / was having a Mac, but then he used to change / changed to a
5 I asked about my package in perception, but they said / were saying that it still
hadn’t arrived / wasn’t arriving.
6 I was sure that I used to lock / had locked the door to my office last night, but it
was / had been open this morning.
7 I’m sure that the winters used to be / had been colder when I was a child. I
remember that we used to walk / were walking to school in the snow every winter.
8 I had gone / went back to the restaurant to look for my umbrella, but found / was finding that someone took /had taken it.
9 When George saw / was seeing Diane at the seminar, he knew / was knowing that
he met / had met her somewhere before.
10 While I had / was having breakfast I looked / was looking at the financial pages to see the share prices. I saw / was seeing that my original investment grew / had
grown by over 40\%.
Exercise 2 (A, B)
Complete the sentences with the best form of the verb in brackets. In each sentence one verb will be in the Past Simple and the other in the Past Perfect.
1 After she ….. (make) a few notes, she ….. (start) writing the introduction to the
2 Gary ….. (be sure) that he ….. (set) the alarm before leaving the office.
3 I ….. (call) my wife on my mobile because the meeting ….. (still not finish).
4 Once I ….. (speak) to him, I ….. (realise) there had been a misunderstanding.
5 After Jill ….. (give) her first presentation, she ….. (feel) much less nervous.
6 Before Edite ….. (become) Michael Edward’s personal assistant she ..… (already work) in the company for two years.
7 I ….. (not see) the figures before the meeting, so it ….. (put) me at a disadvantage during the discussion.
8 Sorry it took so long. I ..… (have to) go down to the store room because we …..
(run out of) paper for the photocopier.
9 The rain ….. (stop) by the time I ….. (get out of) the taxi.
10 I ….. (be) surprised to find that she ….. (already leave).
Exercise 3 (A, B)
Alan is talking about his first job. Complete what he says with the best form of the verb in brackets. Choose between the Past Simple, Past Continuous or Past Perfect.
INTERVIEWER: So, Alan, why did you quit your last job?
ALAN: Well, at the time I (1) ….. (work) as a financial officer for an International Accountancy firm in London. I (2) ….. (be) in the same company for three years.
INTERVIEWER: How (3) ….. (you/get) the job?
ALAN: Just after I (4) ….. (finish) university I (5) ….. (go) to a job fair. I still (6) ….. (decide) what I wanted to do and I was interested to see what kind of jobs there (7) ….. (be) at the fair. While I (8) ….. (look) at information on of the stands for a large international accountancy firm, someone (9) ….. (give) me an application form
to fill in. I thought this might be a good career opportunity for me as I (10) ….. (already/take) some accountancy exams for my degree. So I (11) ….. (complete) the form and (12) ….. (send) off. They (13) ….. (interview) me the following week and I got job.
At first, I (14) ….. (feel) satisfied with the job, but as time went by things (15) ….. (change) and I began to hate working there.
INTERVIEWER: So what (16) ….. (go) wrong?
ALAN: Well, the situation was this: I (17) ….. (work) for a person who was very difficult, very demanding, never satisfied. What’s more,
my job (18) ….. (become) too repetitive and I really wanted to do something more creative. So, that’s why I resigned. I (19) …..
(= taking the necessary action)
(not/have) another job to go to, but I knew I (20) …… (have) to mark a change.
Exercise 4 (B)
Complete this magazine article by putting the verb in brackets into either the Past Simple or Past Perfect. In one case only the Past Perfect can be used, in five cases only the Past Simple can be used and in six cases both are possible.