• Past Perfect and the Woman Who Lived in the Wall

    Past perfect is a difficult tense in English. It may not seem that hard at first, but we notice that many students don’t use it in conversation, even students who are otherwise advanced English speakers. Learning to use it correctly will make your English sound much more natural, and help you talk more understandably about actions that occurred at different times.

    Below, we’ve created a video that explains some of the basic rules about using the past perfect tense. Watch it and see if you can do the exercises. After that, we’ve got a great listening exercise for you to try. It’s a podcast from RadioLab about a woman who seemed to have lost her mental abilities after being hit by a truck in New York City, and what her boyfriend did to try to save her. It’s a great story!

    Past Perfect Video


    1) When I arrived at the cinema, the film (start). .

    2) She (live) in China before she went to Thailand. .

    3) After they (eat) the shellfish, they began to feel sick. .

    4) If you (listen) to me, you would have got the job. .

    5) Julie didn’t arrive until after I (leave). .

    6) When we (finish) dinner, we went out. .

    7) The garden was dead because it (be) dry all summer. .

    8) He (meet) her somewhere before. .

    9) We were late for the plane because we (forget) our passports. .

    10) She told me she (study) a lot before the exam. .

    Listening Exercise

    You can listen to the first 5 minutes, then answer the questions below, or you can listen to the whole recording. It’s great!

    1. How long were they dating for?

    2. Truth is they _____ known each other for a while.

    3. What did she do at the age of six?

    4. What did she leave her family for?

    5. Has Allen ever called Emilie’s mother before?

    6. What was her first question to Allan?

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