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I understand forming the past tense like 'I have not been' but I'm unsure as to how to phrase this as it is something that was true but now is not. If that makes sense. It's the 'had' part that's confusing me. If anyone could clear this up I would be very grateful. Thanks.

Edit: my attempt, as I understand past perfect does not exist in Japanese I tried to do something that would be in English (roughly) 'before last year, I have not gone to America'.

Mae ni kyonen watashi wa Amerika ni ikimasen deshita.
まえ に 去年 私は アメリカ に いきませんでした。

However I don't really know if this is correct (and if I'm missing a particle after kyonen?)

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    Could you have a go at it yourself? Straight translation requests are considered off-topic. – Earthliŋ Apr 28 '16 at 10:41
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I had never been to America before last year.
去年まで私はアメリカに行ったことがありませんでした。

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    If you could elaborate a bit if would be appreciated. – 永劫回帰 Apr 28 '16 at 11:37
  • I Just want to say that I have never been to America before last year, but the lack of past perfect confuses me – esta Apr 28 '16 at 16:02
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    Why is this answer downvoted? – istrasci Apr 28 '16 at 17:15
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    @istrasci I had downvoted it, because it consisted of a wrongly translated example sentence without an explanation. (@ chocolate fixed the translation.) I'll undo my downvote. – Earthliŋ Apr 28 '16 at 21:18
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To elaborate on @zang ming jie's answer, a verb in past tense plus ことがある means "to have experienced doing the verb". So

アメリカに行ったことがある
I have been to America
アメリカに行ったことがない
I have never been to America
アメリカに行ったことがなかった
I had never been to America

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