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ESL "Obong Mountain" free past perfect online grammar class

A picture of Obong mountain

Hi, this is a picture I took on Obong mountain in Cheunchon, Korea. I went there on May 8, 2003. I had never been there before.

The first sentence above uses the past simple verb "took". The second uses another past simple verb, "went". The third sentence uses the past perfect verb "had (never) been".

In this class I'm going to show you when and how to use the past perfect, but remember that the past simple can almost always be used instead of past perfect in casual speech. The past perfect becomes necessary on grammar tests and sometimes in formal writing.

The past perfect is used for actions before a specific time in the past. In the example above, I had never been to Obong mountain before May 8, 2003. Since May 8, 2003 is a specific time in the past, I used a past perfect verb to describe that I had never been to the mountain before that time.

past perfect timeline

Here's a small part of my Obong Mountain story. I've removed some past simple verbs and some past perfect verbs. Remember to use past simple for specific times in the past and the past perfect for actions before a specific time in the past. Form the past perfect with had + past participle.

To get to Obong mountain, we (take) the train. My friends (buy) some food the day before, so they (ask) me if I wanted some. I wasn't hungry because I (eat) breakfast before I left home.

I hope you feel ready to experiment with the past perfect. I know that you still have doubts about when to use past perfect instead of past simple, but the only way to learn this stuff perfectly is to try it. You can tell us one of your stories on the class discussion thread. The more you use English to communicate, the easier it will be to remember grammar and vocabulary! If you need to brush up on irregular past simple verbs, there are two irregular past tense quizzes for you to try.