Grammar - Intermediate

Past Perfect Structure

We make the past perfect using had + the past participle. Here is the verb "go".

Past Perfect
Positive Negative Question
I had gone
You had gone
He had gone
She had gone
It had gone
We had gone
You had gone
They had gone
I hadn't gone
You hadn't gone
He hadn't gone
She hadn't gone
It hadn't gone
We hadn't gone
You hadn't gone
They hadn't gone
Had I gone?
Had you gone?
Had he gone?
Had she gone?
Had it gone?
Had we gone?
Had you gone?
Had they gone?


She had written a letter to me.
The newspaper had arrived an hour before.
My parents had treated me differently from my sister.

Past Perfect Use

We use the past perfect to talk about something that happened before another event in the past. It's like a double past.

Take this sentence in the past simple.

I arrived home at about 6 o'clock and sat down on the sofa to watch the big football game.

Poor John doesn't realise that the television doesn't work. Why doesn't the TV work? The TV exploded at 5pm - one hour before he arrived home:

His wife explained that the TV had exploded at 5pm.

Look at these two sentences. What is the difference?

When John arrived home, his wife cooked dinner.
When John arrived home, his wife had cooked dinner.

In the first, we use past simple and past simple for a sequence of events in the past. So his wife waited for John to arrive home, then started cooking dinner.

In the second sentence, "his wife had cooked dinner" tells us that this had happened before John arrived. It means the dinner was waiting for John on the table when he arrived.

So we can use the past perfect to make it clear that something had happened before something else.

She failed her exams because she hadn't studied.

We could also write:

She failed her exams because she didn't study.

But using the past perfect emphasises the fact that she hadn't studied before the exam.

The past perfect is often used, therefore, to talk about the reasons for a past situation.

She was crying because Philip had written her a terrible letter.
He was late because he had missed his train.
They felt sick as they had eaten too much.

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'Make', 'Let' and 'Allow'

These three words are used to talk about permission and obligation.


If someone obliges, forces someone to do something, we use "make". The construction is:

make someone do something.

Unlike most verb, then, we don't use "to" in the infinitive.


My teacher made me do extra homework because of the trouble I caused.
Some banks make you pay too many bank charges.

In the passive, we add "to" after make.

She was made to leave the room while the plans were discussed.


If we have permission from someone to do something, we use "let". The construction is:

let someone do something.

Again, we don't use "to" in the infinitive.


My mother lets me stay out till midnight on a Saturday.
Let me go! I promise I won't tell anyone.

I was allowed to leave early.


If someone gives us permission or the possibility to do something, we use "allow to". The construction is:

allow someone to do something.


Working from home allows me to spend more time with my family
My father never allows me to stay out too late.

It is used very often in the passive. In this way, the person given the permission is made the subject of the sentence.

You're not allowed to smoke in this room.
They're not allowed to get married yet. Their parents say they are too young.

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