I stumbled upon this question when listened to an interview: "I lived there for two years". If described process happened in the past, isn't it better to use past perfect "I had lived there for two years", because the process happened in the past and was also finished in the past. If past simple can be used for continuous actions such as living, could you give me some advice, what continuous actions I can use past simple for?

  • Did you mean to write "what continuous actions I can use past perfect for"?
    – xyldke
    May 11, 2022 at 14:54
  • For me "I lived there for two years" felt like a process, even though I has now found out that it is just a fact and facts are described with past simple and not past perfect May 11, 2022 at 14:59
  • Did you want to know when to use the past perfect or for which specific continuous actions you can use the past simple?
    – xyldke
    May 11, 2022 at 15:05

1 Answer 1


Use simple past to describe actions that happened in the past without referring to any other actions. Use past perfect to describe actions that happened in the past before some other specified action.


I lived there for two years.

Before I moved here, I had lived there for two years.

Simple past does not imply that the action continues into the present. Rather the opposite: it is usually used for actions that were completed in the past. If you want to say that an action began in the past and continues into the present, use the present perfect continuous. Like, "I have been living there beginning two years ago." The present continuous is also used, depending on exactly what you are trying to say. "I am living there."

If you use the simple past, we normally understand that to mean that the action is not continuing. Like if I said, "I lived there for two years", this would normally be understood to mean that I no longer live there.

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