Study this example situation:
* Sarah went to a party last week. Paul went to the party too. But they didn’t see each other. Paul went home at 10.30 and Sarah arrived at 11 o’clock. So: When Sarah arrived at the party, Paul wasn’t there. He had gone home.
Had gone is the Past Perfect (Simple):
I/ we/ they/ you had (= I’d etc.) gone/ seen/ finished
He/ she/ it had (= he’d etc.) gone/ seen/ finished
The Past Perfect Simple is had + past participle (gone/ seen/ finished etc.).
Sometimes we talk about something that happened in the past:
* Sarah arrived at the party….
This is the starting point of the story. Then, if we want to talk about things that happened before this time, we use the Past Perfect (had…):
* When Sarah arrived at the party, Paul had already gone home.
Some more examples:
* When we got home last night, we found that somebody had broken into the flat.
* Karen didn’t want to come to the cinema with us because she had already seen the film.
* At first I thought I’d done the right thing, but I soon realised that I’d made a serious mistake.
* The man sitting next to me on the plane was very nervous. He hadn’t flown before. / He had never flown before.
Had done (Past Perfect) is the past of have done (Present Perfect). Compare:
* Who is that woman? I’ve never seen her before. – Present Perfect
I didn’t know who she was. I’d never seen her before. (= before that time) – Past Perfect
* We aren’t hungry. We’ve just had lunch. – Present Perfect
We weren’t hungry. We’d just had lunch. – Past Perfect
* The house is dirty. They haven’t cleaned it for weeks. – Present Perfect
The house was dirty. They hadn’t cleaned it for weeks. – Past Perfect
Compare the Past Perfect (I had done) and Past Simple (I did):
* – “Was Tom at the party when you arrived?” “No, he had already gone home.”
– “Was Tom there when you arrived?” “Yes, but he went home soon afterwards.”
* – Ann wasn’t at home when I phoned. She was in London.
– Ann had just got home when I phoned. She had been in London.