Past Perfect Simple – Free ESL Resources!

In English, we use the past perfect simple to describe an event in the past that occurred before another event in the past.

Although the use of the past perfect simple  may seem advanced, it is actually a relatively common form of expression required in everyday speech. We recommend tackling the past perfect simple once your student becomes comfortable with the use of the past simple (including some irregular verbs) and the present perfect simple. We have a library of over 200 lessons designed for private ESL teachers and tutors to run their classes.
You can find our past perfect simple lesson content (VS 6.1 – Past-Perfect-Simple-1 and VS6.2 – Past-Perfect-Simple-2) in the Verbs Simple category on our Teacher tab. If you haven’t yet set up your account, be sure to get set up on our Home page. Here’s a short summary of what you can expect to find:
VS 6.1 – Past-Perfect-Simple-1
We begin by outlining the main use of of the past perfect simple for an event in the past that occurred before an another event in the past, by using a series of timeline examples:
past-perfect-simple past-perfect-simple
We also make special note of the distinction between using the past perfect simple and the past simple to make it clear that an event was finished before another event. Consider these examples:
The student is then provided with ample opportunities to express events in the past using the past perfect simple, with several timeline examples.
VS 6.2 – Past-Perfect-Simple-2
We begin the lesson by explaining that in common speech we often use a contraction to express the past perfect simple (I’d stopped driving as soon as I got your phone call). We also make special note that in spoken English it can often be difficult to decipher the difference between the past perfect simple (he’d finished diner) and the future tense (she said she’d finish dinner by 7pm) when using a contraction.
We also offer the student strategies to determine whether the past perfect simple or the past simple is appropriate in a given situation. Generally, if we have two events in the past with short durations, we can use the past simple to describe each event. If one of our events in the past has a longer duration than the other, we would typically use the past perfect simple:
past-perfect-simple past-perfect-simple
We provide a number of exercise at the end of the lesson to practice this distinction.

We hope that you enjoy our past perfect simple resources! Be sure to get in touch with any comments and feedback!


  • Susan says:

    September 9, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    great slides!

    • James Heywood (Off2Class) says:

      September 9, 2018 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks, Susan!

  • Berkan says:

    October 28, 2018 at 12:36 pm


    • James Heywood (Off2Class) says:

      October 28, 2018 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks, Berkan!

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