I was wondering what the difference in meaning is between the two following sentences (if there is any).

It had been raining when I left the house.

It had rained when I left the house.

I'm pretty sure that the first sentence means it has just stopped raining when I leave the house. Does the second sentence with the past perfect mean the same thing? Or is there a difference in meaning?

2 Answers 2


It had rained when I left the house

Past tense indicates something that's done and over with. So when you left the house, it had already rained. The implication is that it is no longer raining.

It had been raining when I left the house.

Indicates something that happened before something else. So the rain started before you left the house, and it was probably still raining when you left the house, although that's not certain.


Probably "had been raining", though there isn't enough context to be certain about what you want to say.

Let's thing about what we would say in the present tense. You open your door and rain is falling, so you think "It is raining". If it is wet but the rain is not falling you might put that into the present perfect "It has been raining", and if you are telling a story about this the next day you'd say "It had been raining."

The perfect "It has rained" is not so common. You might use it when the rain is seen as having happened at one point in time, for example with a negative "It hasn't rained since 1990".

You might say "It had rained overnight so the road was wet when I left the house".

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