I know how to use past perfect and past tense but when I read articles in the website and newspaper especially on news. they use "had" without any past tense followed. I'm not american native speaker and I'm confuse. What is the use of 'had' without following past tense.

example of this is from article of BBC: "The French energy giant EDF, with support from state-owned China General Nuclear, had expected to build the £18bn plant."

you would see that "had" was used in this sentence without any past tense followed. and what is it mean. pls explain this.

  • 1
    "Had expected" is a past perfect verb phrase, in which "had" is the perfect auxiliary verb and "expected" the past participle.
    – BillJ
    Sep 3, 2016 at 10:25
  • 2
    I don't understand your question: expected is the past participle of expect. So this is a case of had with a following past participle (the past tense and past participle are the same for regular verbs). Sep 3, 2016 at 10:40
  • 1
    The past perfect does not have to occur in the same sentence as the verb with the simple past,.... if that is what you're asking about. Sep 4, 2016 at 5:08

3 Answers 3


EDF had expected to build the £18bn plant

In this case, "expected" is the past participle (on regular verbs, past participles are identical in form to the past tense) of the verb expect, so the past perfect with the had is still there!


they use "had" without any past tense

You are confusing past and perfect here. You are meaning to say that you are expecting a perfect tense.

"I had" is the past tense of "I have".

I have a big house. (present tense, I currently have this house)
I had a big house (past tense, I no longer have this house)

Perfect tense (regardles of present/past) means that the action is completed.

I have worked for 8 hours today. (They are already completed => perfect)
I had already worked for 8 hours (They were already completed => perfect)

Now, to combine the two:

I (have) a boat => (present) tense
I (had) a boat => (past) tense
I (have) (painted) a boat => (present) (perfect) tense
I (had) (painted) a boat => (past) (perfect) tense

I hope the (parentheses) help you in understanding that the choice between (present/past) relies on have/had, not on the existence of a (perfect) tense like painted.

So to answer your question: if you see a verb in past tense, without seeing a second verb in the perfect tense, then you are dealing with past tense, not past perfect tense.


I think these answers are a bit misleading. In English, these are two completely different words in one. "To have" either indicates possession of something: "I have a car," or it is used as an auxiliary verb: "I have (auxv) had (v) two drinks" "I had spoken to a manager before I arrived, but I have spoken to her many times since then."

This is the past counterpart to the auxiliary verb "to do."

Someone may ask you the question, "Do you have a car?" Example: in the present, we would answer: "Yes. I do have a car." However if the question was in the continuous past, we may ask, "Have you ever had a car?" To which the answer could be, "Yes, I have had a car before, but now I don't have one." Or "No, I have never had a car." We could run into a situation in which "I had had a car" would seem appropriate, but in order to avoid the uncomfortable sound of repeating the same word in a sentence, we just say it once: Question: "Did you ever have a car before you were married?" Response: "I (had) had a car before, but I hadn't had one for a long time at that point.'

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