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Simple Present - Summary

Form
be
affirmative negative question

I am.

I am not.

Am I?

he/she/it

He is.

He is not.

Is he?

you/we/they You are.

You are not.

Are you?

have
affirmative negative question

I/you/we/they

I have got. / I have.

I have not got. / I do not have.

Have I got? / Do I have?

he/she/it

He has got. / He has.

He has not got. / He does not have. Has he got? / Does he have?

other verbs
affirmative negative question

I/you/we/they I play.

I do not play.

Do I play?

he/she/it

He plays.

He does not play.

Does he play?

Exceptions in Spelling
Exception Example

The verbs can, may, might, must remain the same in all forms. So don't add s.

he can, she may, it must

Verbs ending in o or a sibilant (ch, sh, s, x) add es instead of s.

do - he does, wash - she washes

A final y after a consonant becomes ie before s. (but: don't modify y after a vowel)

worry - he worries (but: play - he plays)

Short Forms
affirmative negative

I am English. = I'm English.

I am not English. = I'm not English.

We are English.= We're English.

We are not English. = We're not / We aren't English.

He is English. = He's English.

He is not English. = He's not / He isn't English.

I have got a dog. = I've got a dog.

I have not got a dog. = I've not got a dog. / I haven't got a dog.

He has got a dog. = He's got a dog.

He has not got a dog. = He's not got a dog. / He hasn't got a dog.

I do not play tennis. = I don't play tennis

He does not play tennis = He doesn't play tennis.

Use
Use Example

action in the present taking place once, never or several times

Colin always plays soccer on Tuesdays.

actions in the present taking place one after another

She takes her bag and leaves.

facts (something is generally known to be true)

The sun sets in the west.

action set by a timetable or schedule

The train leaves at 9 pm.

verbs of possession, senses, emotions and mental activity

I love her.

Typical Signal Words


always every ... often normally usually sometimes seldom never

Present Progressive - Introduction


The present progressive puts emphasis on the course or duration of an action. The present progressive is used for actions going on in the moment of speaking and for actions taking place only for a short period of time. It is also used to express development and actions that are arranged for the near future. Present progressive is also known as present continuous.

Form
affirmative negative question

I am playing.

I am not playing.

Am I playing?

he, she, it

He is playing.

He is not playing.

Is he playing?

you, we, they

You are playing. You are not playing.

Are you playing?

Exceptions in Spelling
Exeption Example

silent e is dropped before ing (but: ee is not changed)

come - coming (but: agree - agreeing)

final consonant after short, stressed vowel is doubled

sit - sitting

final consonant l after vowel is always doubled (in British English) travel - travelling

ie becomes y before ing

lie - lying

Short Forms
positiv negativ

I am playing. - I'm playing.

I am not playing. - I'm not playing.

He is playing. - He's playing.

He is not playing. - He's not playing. / He isn't playing.

We are playing. - We'replaying.

We are not playing. - We're not playing. /We aren't playing.

Use
Use Example

actions taking place at the moment of speaking (now)

He is playing football.

arrangements for the near future

I'm going to the theatre tonight.

actions taking place only for a limited period of time

Jim is helping in his brother's firm this week.

actions taking place around now (but not at the moment of speaking) I'm studying for my exams.

development, changing situations

The population of China is rising very fast.

Typical Signal Words


at the moment now / just now / right now Listen! Look!

Simple Past (Past Simple)


The simple past expresses an action in the past taking place once, never, several times. It can also be used for actions taking place one after another or in the middle of another action.

Form of Simple Past


Positive Negative Question

no differences I spoke.

I did not speak. Did I speak?

For irregular verbs, use the past form (see list of irregular verbs, 2nd column). For regular verbs, just add ed.

Exceptions in Spelling when Adding ed


Exceptions in spelling when adding ed Example
love loved

after a final e only add d

final consonant after a short, stressed vowel admit admitted or l as final consonant after a vowel is doubled travel travelled

final y after a consonant becomes i

hurry hurried

Use of Simple Past


action in the past taking place once, never or several times Example: He visited his parents every weekend. actions in the past taking place one after the other Example: He came in, took off his coat and sat down. action in the past taking place in the middle of another action Example: When I was having breakfast, the phone suddenly rang. if sentences type II (If I talked, ) Example: If I had a lot of money, I would share it with you.

Signal Words of Simple Past


yesterday, 2 minutes ago, in 1990, the other day, last Friday If-Satz Typ II (If I talked, )

Past Progressive (Past Continuous)


Language Guide German + Dictionary for iPhone and iPod-Touch (made by ego4u) Exercises on Past Progressive The past progressive puts emphasis on the course of an action in the past.

Form
Positive Negative Question

I / he / she / it

I was speaking.

I was not speaking.

Was I speaking?

you / we / they You were speaking. You were not speaking. Were you speaking?

Exceptions in Spelling
Exceptions in spelling when adding ing Example
come coming (but: agree agreeing)

final e is dropped (but: ee is not changed)

after a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled

sit sitting

l as final consonant after a vowel is doubled (in British English) travel travelling

final ie becomes y

lie lying

Use of Past Progressive


puts emphasis on the course of an action in the past Example: He was playing football. two actions happening at the same time (in the past)

Example: While she was preparing dinner, he was washing the dishes. action going on at a certain time in the past Example: When I was having breakfast, the phone suddenly rang.

Signal Words of Past Progressive


when, while, as long as

Present Perfect Simple


Exercises on Present Perfect The present perfect simple expresses an action that is still going on or that stopped recently, but has an influence on the present. It puts emphasis on the result.

Form of Present Perfect


Positive Negative Question

I / you / we / they I have spoken.

I have not spoken.

Have I spoken?

he / she / it

He has spoken. He has not spoken. Has he spoken?

For irregular verbs, use the participle form (see list of irregular verbs, 3rd column). For regular verbs, just add ed.

Exceptions in Spelling when Adding ed


Exceptions in spelling when adding ed Example
love loved

after a final e only add d

final consonant after a short, stressed vowel admit admitted or l as final consonant after a vowel is doubled travel travelled

final y after a consonant becomes i

hurry hurried

Use of Present Perfect


puts emphasis on the result Example: She has written five letters. action that is still going on Example: School has not started yet. action that stopped recently Example: She has cooked dinner. finished action that has an influence on the present Example: I have lost my key. action that has taken place once, never or several times before the moment of speaking Example: I have never been to Australia.

Signal Words of Present Perfect


already, ever, just, never, not yet, so far, till now, up to now

Present Perfect Progressive


Present Perfect Continuous Exercises on Present Perfect Progressive The present perfect progressive expresses an action that recently stopped or is still going on. It puts emphasis on the duration or course of the action.

Form of Present Perfect Progressive


Positive Negative Question

I / you / we / they I have been speaking.

I have not been speaking.

Have I been speaking?

he / she / it

He has been speaking. He has not been speaking. Has he been speaking?

Exceptions in Spelling
Exceptions in spelling when adding ing Example
come coming (but: agree agreeing)

final e is dropped (but: ee is not changed)

after a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled

sit sitting

l as final consonant after a vowel is doubled (in British English) travel travelling

final ie becomes y

lie lying

Use of Present Perfect Progressive


puts emphasis on the duration or course of an action (not the result) Example: She has been writing for two hours. action that recently stopped or is still going on Example: I have been living here since 2001. finished action that influenced the present Example: I have been working all afternoon.

Signal Words of Present Perfect Progressive


all day, for 4 years, since 1993, how long?, the whole week

Past Perfect Simple


Exercises on Past Perfect Simple

The past perfect simple expresses an action taking place before a certain time in the past.

Form of Past Perfect Simple


Positive Negative Question

no differences I had spoken. I had not spoken. Had I spoken? For irregular verbs, use the past participle form (see list of irregular verbs, 3rd column). For regular verbs, just add ed.

Exceptions in Spelling when Adding ed


Exceptions in Spelling when Adding ed Example
love loved

after final e, only add d

final consonant after a short, stressed vowel admit admitted or l as final consonant after a vowel is doubled travel travelled

final y after a consonant becomes i

hurry hurried

Use of Past Perfect


action taking place before a certain time in the past (putting emphasis only on the fact, not the duration) Example: Before I came here, I had spoken to Jack. Conditional Sentences Type III (condition that was not given in the past) Example: If I had seen him, I would have talked to him.

Signal Words
already, just, never, not yet, once, until that day (with reference to the past, not the present) If-Satz Typ III (If I had talked, )

Exercises on Past Perfect


Exceptions in Spelling when Adding ed Positive Sentences in Past Perfect Simple Negative Sentences in Past Perfect Simple Questions in Past Perfect Simple Mixed Exercise in Past Perfect Simple Irregular Verbs

Past Perfect Progressive (Past Perfect Continuous)


Language Guide German + Dictionary for iPhone and iPod-Touch (made by ego4u) The past perfect progressive puts emphasis on the course or duration of an action taking place before a certain time in the past.

Form
A: He had been talking. N: He had not been talking. Q: Had he been talking?

Use
action taking place before a certain time in the past sometimes interchangeable with past perfect simple puts emphasis on the course or duration of an action

signal words
for, since, the whole day, all day

uture I Simple will


Exercises on Future I Simple with will Will future expresses a spontaneous decision, an assumption with regard to the future or an action in the future that cannot be influenced.

Form of will Future


positive negative question

no differences I will speak. I will not speak. Will I speak?

Use of will Future


a spontaneous decision example: Wait, I will help you. an opinion, hope, uncertainty or assumption regarding the future example: He will probably come back tomorrow. a promise example: I will not watch TV tonight. an action in the future that cannot be influenced example: It will rain tomorrow. conditional clauses type I example: If I arrive late, I will call you.

Signal Words
in a year, next , tomorrow Vermutung: I think, probably, perhaps

Future I Progressive (Future I Continuous)


Future I progressive puts emphasis on the course of an action taking place in the future.

Form
A: He will be talking. N: He will not be talking. Q: Will he be talking?

Use
action that is going on at a certain time in the future action that is sure to happen in the near future

Signal Words
in one year, next week, tomorrow

Simple Present Present Progressive


Exercises and tests

Form
Simple Present
infinitive (3rd person singular: infinitive + 's') I speak you speak he / she / it speaks we speak they speak

Present Progressive
form of 'be' and verb + ing I am speaking you are speaking he / she / it is speaking we are speaking they are speaking Exceptions

Exceptions when adding 's' : For can, may, might, must, do not add s. Example: he can, she may, it must After o, ch, sh or s, add es. Example: do - he does, wash - she washes After a consonant, the final consonant ybecomes ie. (but: not after a vowel) Example: worry - he worries but: play - he plays

Exceptions when adding 'ing' : Silent e is dropped. (but: does not apply for -ee) Example: come - coming but: agree - agreeing After a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled. Example: sit - sitting After a vowel, the final consonant l is doubled in British English (but not in American English). Example: travel - travelling (British English) but: traveling (American English) Final ie becomes y. Example: lie - lying

See also explanations on Simple Present and Present Progressive

Use
In general or right now?
Do you want to express that something happens in general or that something is happening right now?

Simple Present
in general (regularly, often, never) Colin plays football every Tuesday. present actions happening one after another First Colin plays football, then he watches TV. right now

Present Progressive

Look! Colin is playing football now. also for several actions happening at the same time Colin is playing football and Anne is watching. Signal words

always every ...

at the moment at this moment

often normally usually sometimes seldom never first then

today now right now Listen! Look!

Note: The following verbs are usually only used in Simple Present: be, have, hear, know, like, love, see, smell, think, want

Timetable / Schedule or arrangement?


Do you want to express that something is arranged for the near future? Or do you refer to a time set by a timetable or schedule?

Simple Present

Present Progressive
arrangement for the near future

action set by a timetable or schedule I am going to the cinema tonight. The film starts at 8 pm.

Daily routine or just for a limited period of time?


Do you want to talk about a daily routine? Or do you want to emphasis that something is only going on for a limited (rather short) period of time?

Simple Present

Present Progressive
only for a limited period of time (does not have to happen directly at the moment of speaking) Jenny is working in a restaurant this week.

daily routine Bob works in a restaurant.

Certain Verbs
The following verbs are usually only used in Simple Present (not in the progressive form). state: be, cost, fit, mean, suit Example: We are on holiday. possession: belong, have Example: Sam has a cat. senses: feel, hear, see, smell, taste, touch Example: He feels the cold. feelings: hate, hope, like, love, prefer, regret, want, wish Example: Jane loves pizza. brain work: believe, know, think, understand Example: I believe you. Introductory clauses for direct speech: answer, ask, reply, say

Example: I am watching TV, he says.

Simple Present - Present Perfect Progressive


Exercises and Tests

Form
Simple Present
infinitive (3rd person singular: infinitive + 's') Example: I / you / we / they speak he / she / it speaks I / you / we / they have been speaking he / she / it has been speaking Exceptions Exceptions when adding 's': The verbs can, may, might, must remain the same in all forms. Do not add s. Example: he can, she may, it must For verbs ending in o or a sibilant (ch, sh, s, z), add es. Example: do - he does, wash - she washes y as final letter after a consonant becomes ie. (but: not after a vowel) Example: worry - he worries but: play - he plays Exceptions when adding 'ing' : Silent e as final letter is dropped. (does not apply for -ee) Example: come - coming but: agree - agreeing After a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled. Example: sit - sitting l as final letter after a single vowel is doubled in British English (but not in American English). Example: travel - travelling ie at the end of the word becomes y. Example: lie - lying See also explanations on Simple Present and Present Perfect Progressive Example:

Present Perfect Progressive


form of 'have' + been + ing-form

Use
We use Simple Present for general statements about the present and for actions taking place regularly in the present. We use Present Perfect Progressive to express how long an action has been going on.

General statements (when/how often) or how long already?


Do you want to make a general statement about the present, e.g. say when or how often an action usually takes place? Or do you want to express, how long an action has already been going on?

Simple Present

Present Perfect Progressive


how long already

general statement, when / how often I have been writing for an hour. I write a letter every day.

Signal Words
Simple Present
how often ... times how long since for

Present Perfect Progressive

Note: The signal words for Simple Present are the same here as for Present Perfect in the explanation on confusing tenses - Present Perfect Simple/Present Perfect Progressive. If we use these signal words for Simple Present, we want to know how often an action usually takes place in the present (not how often it has taken place so far). There is a difference, because you can ask someone how often he plays tennis (in general) or how often he has played tennis (so far).

Present Perfect Simple Present Perfect Progressive


Exercises and Tests

Form
Present Perfect Simple
irregular verbs: form of 'have' + 3rd column of irregular verbs Example: I / you / we / they have spoken he / she / it has spoken regular verbs: form of 'have' + infinitive + ed Example: I / you / we / they have worked he / she / it has worked Exceptions Exceptions when adding 'ed' : when the final letter is e, only add d Example: love - loved after a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled Example: admit - admitted final l is always doubled in British English (not in American English) Example: travel - travelled after a consonant, final y becomes i (but: not after a vowel) Example: worry - worried but: play - played See also explanations on Present Perfect Simple and Present Perfect Progressive Exceptions when adding 'ing' : silent e is dropped. (but: does not apply for -ee) Example: come - coming aber: agree - agreeing after a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled Example: sit - sitting after a vowel, the final consonant l is doubled in British English (but not in American English). Example: travel - travelling final ie becomes y. Example: lie - lying I / you / we / they have been speaking he / she / it has been speaking

Present Perfect Progressive


form of 'have' + been + verb + ing Example:

Use
Both tenses are used to express that an action began in the past and is still going on or has just finished. In many cases, both forms are correct, but there is often a difference in meaning: We use the Present Perfect Simple mainly to express that an action is completed or to emphasise the result. We use the Present Perfect Progressive to emphasise the duration or continuous course of an action.

Result or duration?
Do you want to express what has happened so far or how long an action has been going on yet?

Present Perfect Simple

Present Perfect Progressive


Duration (how long)

Result (what / how much / how often) I have been writing for an hour. I have written 5 letters. / I have been to London twice.

Certain verbs
The following verbs are usually only used in Present Perfect Simple (not in the progressive form). state: be, have (for possession only) Example: We have been on holiday for two weeks. senses: feel, hear, see, smell, taste, touch Example: He has touched the painting. brain work: believe, know, think, understand Example: I have known him for 3 years.

Emphasis on completion or duration?


Do you want to emphasise the completion of an action or its continuous course (how has somebody spent his time)?

Present Perfect Simple

Present Perfect Progressive


Emphasis on duration

Emphasis on completion I have done my homework. (Meaning: My homework is completed now.) I have been doing my homework. (Meaning: That's how I have spent my time. It does not matter whether the homework is completed now.)

Result or side effect?


Do you want to express that a completed action led to a desired result or that the action had an unwanted side effect?

Present Perfect Simple


unwanted side effect desired result I have washed the car. (Result: The car is clean now.)

Present Perfect Progressive

Why are you so wet? - I have been washing the car. (side effect: I became wet when I was washing the car. It does not matter whether the car is clean now.)

Time + negation: last time or beginning of an action?


In negative sentences: Do you want to express how much time has past since the last time the action took place or since the beginning of the action?

Present Perfect Simple


since the last time I haven't played that game for years. (Meaning: It's years ago that I last played that game.)

Present Perfect Progressive


since the beginning I haven't been playing that game for an hour, only for 10 minutes. (Meaning: It's not even an hour ago that I started to play that game.)

Permanent or temporary?
If an action is still going on and we want to express that it is a permanent situation, we would usually use the Present Perfect Simple. For temporary situations, we would prefer the Present Perfect Progressive. This is not a rule, however, only a tendency.

Present Perfect Simple


permanent James has lived in this town for 10 years. (Meaning: He is a permanent resident of this town.) temporary

Present Perfect Progressive

James has been living here for a year. (Meaning: This situation is only temporary. Maybe he is an exchange student and only here for one or two years.)

Signal words
Present Perfect Simple
how often ... times how long since for

Present Perfect Progressive

Simple Past Past Progressive


Exercises and Tests

Form
Simple Past
irregular verbs: see 2nd column of irregular verbs I spoke regular verbs: verb + ed I worked I was speaking you were speaking he / she / it was speaking we were speaking they were speaking Exceptions Exceptions when adding 'ed' : Exceptions when adding 'ing' :

Past Progressive
past form of 'be' + ing form of verb

when the final letter is e, only add d. Example: love - loved

silent e is dropped (but: does not apply for -ee) Example: come - coming but: agree - agreeing after a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled Example: sit - sitting

after a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled Example: admit - admitted

final l is always doubled in British English (not in American English) Example: travel - travelled

final l is always doubled in British English (not in American English) Example: travel - travelling

after a consonant, final y becomes i. (but: not after a vowel) Example: worry - he worried but: play - he played

final ie becomes y. Example: lie - lying

See also explanations on Simple Past and Past Progressive

Use
After another or at the same time?
Do you want to express that the actions in the past happened one after another or at the same time?

Simple Past
at the same time after another She came home, switched on the computer and checked her e-mails.

Past Progressive

Simon was playing on the computer while his brother was watching TV.

New action or already in progress?


If you want to express that a new action happened in the middle of another action, you need both tenses: Simple Past the new action and Past Progressive for the action already in progress.

Simple Past

Past Progressive
action already in progress

new action My mobile rang (when I was sitting in a meeting.) While I was sitting in a meeting, (my mobile suddenly rang.)

Only mentioning or emphasising progress?


Do you just want to mention that an action took place in the past (also used for short actions)? Or do you want to put emphasis on the progress, e.g. that an action was taking place at a certain time?

Simple Past
just mentioning Colin played football yesterday.

Past Progressive
emphasising progress Yesterday at six o'clock, Colin was playing football.

Certain Verbs
The following verbs are usually only used in Simple Past (not in the progressive form). state: be, cost, fit, mean, suit Example: We were on holiday. possession: belong, have Example: Sam had a cat. senses: feel, hear, see, smell, taste, touch Example: He felt the cold. feelings: hate, hope, like, love, prefer, regret, want, wish Example: Jane loved pizza. brain work: believe, know, think, understand Example: I did not understand him. introductory clauses for direct speech: answer, ask, reply, say Example: I am watching TV, he said.

Signal words
Simple Past
first then If-Satz Typ II (If I talked, ) when while as long as

Past Progressive

Simple Past Present Perfect Simple


Exercises and Tests

Form
Simple Past
irregular verbs: see 2nd column of irregular verbs Example: I spoke I / you / we / they have spoken he / she / it has spoken regular verbs: infinitive + ed Example: I worked I / you / we / they have worked he / she / it has worked Exceptions Exceptions when adding 'ed': when the final letter is e, only add d Example: love - loved regular verbs: form of 'have' + infinitive + ed Example:

Present Perfect Simple


irregular verbs: form of 'have' + 3rd column of irregular verbs Example:

after a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled Example: admit - admitted

final l is always doubled in British English (not in American English) Example: travel - travelled

after a consonant, final y becomes i (but: not after a vowel) Example: worry - worried but: play - played See also explanations on Simple Past and Present Perfect Simple

Use
In British English, the use of Simple Past and Present Perfect is quite strict. As soon as a time expression in the past is given, you have to use Simple Past. If there are no signal words, you must decide if we just talk about an action in the past or if its consequence in the present is important. Note that the following explanations and exercises refer to British English only. In American English, you can normally use Simple Past instead of Present Perfect. We cannot accept this in our exercises, however, as this would lead to confusions amongst those who have to learn the differences.

Certain time in the past or just / already / yet?


Do you want to express that an action happened at a certain time in the past (even if it was just a few seconds ago) or that an action has just / already / not yet happened?

Simple Past
certain time in the past Example: I phoned Mary 2 minutes ago.

Present Perfect Simple


just / already / not yet Example: I have just phoned Mary.

Certain event in the past or how often so far?


Do you want to express when a certain action took place or whether / how often an action has happened till now?

Simple Past
certain event in the past Example: He went to Canada last summer.

Present Perfect Simple


whether / how often till now Example: Have you ever been to Canada? / I have been to Canada twice.

Emphasis on action or result?


Do you just want to express what happened in the past? Or do you want to emphasise the result (a past action's consequence in the present)?

Simple Past
Emphasis on action Example:

Present Perfect Simple


Emphasis on result Example:

I bought a new bike. (just telling what I did in the past.)

I have bought a new bike. (With this sentence I actually want to express that I have a new bike now.)

Signal Words
Simple Past
yesterday ... ago in 1990 the other day last ... just already up to now until now / till now ever (not) yet so far lately / recently

Present Perfect Simple

Simple Past Past Perfect Simple


Exercises and Tests

Form
Simple Past
2nd column of irregular verbs Example: I spoke regular verbs: infinitive + ed Example: I worked Exceptions Exceptions when adding ed: when the final letter is e, only add d Example: love - loved after a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled Example: admit - admitted final l is always doubled in British English (not in American English) Example: travel - travelled after a consonant, final y becomes i (but: not after a vowel) Example: worry - worried but: play - played See also explanations on Simple Past and Past Perfect Simple I had worked I had spoken regular verbs: form of have + infinitive + ed Example:

Past Perfect Simple


had + 3rd column of irregular verbs Example:

Use
We use Simple Past if we give past events in the order in which they occured. However, when we look back from a certain time in the past to tell what had happened before, we use Past Perfect.

Normal order in the past or looking back to an event before a certain time in the past?
Do you just want to tell what happened some time in the past or do you want to tell what had happened before/up to a certain time in the past?

Simple Past
some time in the past Example: Jane got up at seven. She opened her birthday presents and then the whole family went to the zoo.

Past Perfect Simple


before/up to a certain time in the past Example: Before her sixth birthday, Jane had never been to the zoo.

Signal Words
Simple Past
first then

Past Perfect Simple


already up to then before that day after*

*Note: "After" is only used as a signal word for Past Perfect if it is followed by a subject + verb, meaning that one action had been completed before another action began (the new action is inSimple Past).

Example: After the family had had breakfast, they went to the zoo.
However, if "after" is followed by object + subject + verb, the verb belongs to the new action and is therefore in Simple Past.

Example: After her visit to the zoo, Jane was exhausted.

More exceptions with signal words


When Depending on the situation, "when" can be used with Simple Past or Past Perfect. Compare the following examples:

Example: When Jane saw the elephants, she was amazed. (at the same time) When Jane had seen the elephants, she wanted to see the giraffes. (second action happened after the first action had been completed) When Jane went to see the elephants, she had already seen the lions. (second action had been completed when the first action took place)
Before "Before" as well can either be used with Simple Past or Past Perfect. If the action after "before" is a new action, use Simple Past. If the action after "before" started (and was not completed) before a certain time in the past, use Past Perfect. Compare the following examples:

Example:

Jane had read a lot about elephants before she went to the zoo. Jane went to the zoo before she had finished reading her new book about elephants.