Using the Past Perfect Tense



Past Perfect tense

The Past Perfect tense is quite an easy tense to understand and to use. This tense talks about the “past in the past”.

In this lesson we look at the structure and use of the Past Perfect tense, followed by a quiz to check your understanding.

How do we make the Past Perfect tense?

The structure of the Past Perfect tense is:

subject + auxiliary have + main verb
conjugated in Past Simple  
had past participle

The auxiliary verb (have) is conjugated in the Past Simple: had

The main verb is invariable in past participle form: -ed (or irregular)

For negative sentences we insert not between the auxiliary verb and the main verb.

For question sentences, we exchange the subject and the auxiliary verb.

Look at these example sentences with the Past Perfect tense:

  subject auxiliary verb   main verb  
+ I had   finished my work.
+ You had   stopped before me.
She had not gone to school.
We had not left.  
? Had you   arrived?  
? Had they   eaten dinner?

Contraction with Past Perfect

When we use the Past Perfect in speaking, we often contract the subject and the auxiliary verb. We also sometimes do this in informal writing:

I had I’d
you had you’d
he had
she had
it had
he’d
she’d
it’d
we had we’d
they had they’d
  • I’d eaten already.
  • They’d gone home.

In negative sentences, we may contract the auxiliary verb and “not”:

  • I hadn’t finished my meal.
  • Anthony hadn’t had a day off for months.

The ‘d contraction is also used for the auxiliary verb would. For example, we’d can mean:

  • We had, OR
  • We would

But usually the main verb is in a different form, for example:

  • We had arrived (past participle)
  • We would arrive (base)

It is always clear from the context.

How do we use the Past Perfect tense?

The Past Perfect tense expresses action in the past before another action in the past. This is the past in the past. For example:

  • The train left at 9am. We arrived at 9:15am. When we arrived, the train had left.
The train had left when we arrived.
past present future
Train leaves in past at 9:00    
We arrive in past at 9:15    

Look at some more examples:

  • I wasn’t hungry. I had just eaten.
  • They were hungry. They had not eaten for five hours.
  • I didn’t know who he was. I had never seen him before.
  • “Mary wasn’t at home when I arrived.” /
    “Really? Where had she gone?”

You can sometimes think of the Past Perfect tense like the Present Perfect tense, but instead of the time being now the time is before.

  have
done
   
had
done
     
  past present future

For example, imagine that you arrive at the station at 9:15am. The stationmaster says to you:

  • “You are too late. The train has left.”

Later, you tell your friends:

  • “We were too late. The train had left.”

We often use the Past Perfect in reported speech after verbs like: said, told, asked, thought, wondered

Look at these examples:

  • He told us that the train had left.
  • I thought I had met her before, but I was wrong.
  • He explained that he had closed the window because of the rain.
  • I wondered if I had been there before.
  • I asked them why they had not finished.

FAQs

What is the rule of past perfect?

The past perfect tense is formed by using the word had followed by the past participle of the verb. For regular verbs, the past participle is a form of the verb that ends in -ed or -d. For example, the past participle of watch is watched

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How do you use past perfect in a sentence?

Using Past Perfect Tense

  1. She stayed up all night because she had received bad news.
  2. They lost many of the games because they had not practiced enough.
  3. Anthony had met Ryan before you introduced him to us at the party.
  4. You had studied Italian before you moved to Rome.

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What are the 2 Uses of the past perfect?

We can use the past perfect to show the order of two past events. The past perfect shows the earlier action and the past simple shows the later action.

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What are the three uses of past perfect tense?

Read about how to make the past perfect here.

  • A finished action before a second point in the past. …
  • Something that started in the past and continued up to another action or time in the past. …
  • To talk about unreal or imaginary things in the past.

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What is difference between past tense and past perfect tense?

Past tense is used to describe an event or action that was completed. Past perfect is used to describe an action that was completed long ago in the past.

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What is the difference between past tense and past perfect tense?

We use the simple past to say what happened in the past, often in sequential order. The past perfect expresses events and actions that occurred prior to another past action (usually expressed in the simple past). In spoken English, it is common to use only the simple past and not the past perfect.

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What is the difference between simple past and past perfect?

These two tenses are both used to talk about things that happened in the past. However we use past perfect to talk about something that happened before another action in the past, which is usually expressed by the past simple.

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Where do we use past perfect and present perfect?

The present perfect is formed using the present tense of the verb “to have” and the past participle of the main verb. The past perfect tense says that an action was completed at a time before another action happened in the past.

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Past Perfect Tense – Grammarly

Past Perfect TenseThe past perfect, also called the pluperfect, is a verb tense used to talk about actions that were completed before some point in the past. The past perfect tense is for talking about something that happened before something else. Imagine waking up one morning and stepping outside to grab the newspaper. On your way back in, you notice a mysterious message scrawled across your front door: Tootles was here. When you’re telling this story to your friends later, how would you describe this moment? You might say something like: Here’s a tip: Want to make sure your writing always looks great? Grammarly can save you from misspellings, grammatical and punctuation mistakes, and other writing issues on all your favorite websites. In addition to feeling indignant on your behalf, your friends will also be able to understand that Tootles graffitied the door at some point in the past before the moment this morning when you saw his handiwork, because you used the past perfect tense to describe the misdeed.The Past Perfect Formula The formula for the past perfect tense is had + [past participle]. It doesn’t matter if the subject is singular or plural; the formula doesn’t change. When to Use the Past Perfect So what’s the difference between past perfect and simple past? When you’re talking about some point in the past and want to reference an event that happened even earlier, using the past perfect allows you to convey the sequence of the events. It’s also clearer and more specific. Consider the difference between these two sentences: It’s a subtle difference, but the first sentence doesn’t tie Tootles’s act of using washable paint to any particular moment in time; readers might interpret it as “We were relieved that Tootles was in the habit of using washable paint.” In the second sentence, the past perfect makes it clear that you’re talking about a specific instance of using washable paint. Another time to use the past perfect is when you are expressing a condition and a result: The past perfect is used in the part of the sentence that explains the condition (the if-clause). Most often, the reason to write a verb in the past perfect tense is to show that it happened before other actions in the same sentence that are described by verbs in the simple past tense. Writing an entire paragraph with every verb in the past perfect tense is unusual. When Not to Use the Past Perfect Don’t use the past perfect when you’re not trying to convey some sequence of events. If your friends asked what you did after you discovered the graffiti, they would be confused if you said: They’d likely be wondering what happened next because using the past perfect implies that your action of cleaning the door occurred before something else happened, but you don’t say what that something else is. The “something else” doesn’t always have to be explicitly mentioned, but context needs to make it clear. In this case there’s no context, so the past perfect doesn’t make sense. How to Make the Past Perfect Negative Making the past perfect negative is simple! Just insert not between had and [past participle]. How to Ask a Question The formula for asking a question in the past perfect tense is had + [subject] + [past participle]. Common Regular Verbs in the Past Perfect Tense Common Irregular Verbs in the Past Perfect Tense…

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Using the Past Perfect Tense

Using the Past Perfect Tense Download this explanation in PDF here. Read about how to make the past perfect here. 1: A finished action before a second point in the past. When we arrived, the film had started (= first the film started, then we arrived). We usually use the past perfect to make it clear which action happened first. Maybe we are already talking about something in the past and we want to mention something else that is further back in time. This is often used to explain or give a reason for something in the past. I’d eaten dinner so I wasn’t hungry. It had snowed in the night, so the bus didn’t arrive. If it’s clear which action happened first (if we use the words ‘before’ or ‘after’, for example), the past perfect is optional. The film started before we arrived / the film had started before we arrived. 2: Something that started in the past and continued up to another action or time in the past. The past perfect tells us ‘how long’, just like the present perfect, but this time the action continues up to a point in the past rather than the present. Usually we use ‘for + time’. We can also use the past perfect continuous here, so we most often use the past perfect simple with stative verbs. When he graduated, he had been in London for six years. (= He arrived in London six years before he graduated and lived there until he graduated, or even longer.) On the 20th of July, I’d worked here for three months. 3: To talk about unreal or imaginary things in the past. In the same way that we use the past simple to talk about unreal or imaginary things in the present, we use the past perfect (one step back in time) to talk about unreal things in the past. This is common in the third conditional and after ‘wish’. If I had known you were ill, I would have visited you. She would have passed the exam if she had studied harder. I wish I hadn’t gone to bed so late! Try some exercises about the past perfect here. Need more practice? Get more Perfect English Grammar with our courses.

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Past Perfect Tense Examples

Past Perfect Tense Examples The past perfect tense is used to show that something happened before another action in the past. It can also be used to show that something happened before a specific time in the past. Past Perfect Tense Examples How to Form The Past Perfect TenseTo form the past perfect tense you use the past tense of the verb “to have,” which is had, and add it to the past participle of the main verb. For example: subject + had + past participle = past perfect tense. Some examples of the past perfect tense can be seen in the following sentences: Had met: She had met him before the party. Had left: The plane had left by the time I got to the airport. Had written: I had written the email before he apologized. Had wanted: Kate had wanted to see the movie, but she did not have money for the ticket. Using Past Perfect TenseThere are several situations where the past perfect tense can be used. It is appropriate to use in the following ways. To show that an action happened before something else in the past: She stayed up all night because she had received bad news. They lost many of the games because they had not practiced enough. Anthony had met Ryan before you introduced him to us at the party. You had studied Italian before you moved to Rome. To show that an action happened before a specific time in the past: She had established her company before 2008. He had never played football until last week. They had gotten engaged before last year. I had fallen asleep before eight o’clock. Keep in mind that past perfect tense makes it clear that one thing happened before another in the past. The order of events does not matter since the tense makes it clear which event happened first. Another use of past perfect tense includes reported speech. Examples of this use include: The teacher asked if we had studied for the exam. The usher asked if we had purchased our tickets. My neighbor asked if we had seen her dog. The boss had said it would be a long meeting. Past perfect tense can also be used to show dissatisfaction with the past. Examples of this use include: We wished we had purchased the winning ticket. I wished I had told the truth. She wished she had seen her friend. The boy wished he had asked another question. Past perfect tense can also be used with the word “just.” When combined, this makes it clear that the event was only a short time prior. Some examples of this include: She had just left the scene when the ambulance arrived. He had just put the dog on the leash when we got there. The bus had just left when we got to the stop. I had just gone outside when it started to rain. * *Note that the past participle of “to go” is “gone” and not “went” so that is used to form the past perfect form as well. Examples of Past Perfect TenseThe following are more examples of past perfect tense in sentences. The past perfect tense is underlined in each sentence. I had never seen such a beautiful sunset before I went to the island. We were not able to stay overnight at the hotel since we had not reserved a room in advance. She had never been to the symphony before last night. Marc knew Philadelphia so well because he had lived there for five years. He understood the math test…

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Past Perfect tense – Grammar – EnglishClub

Past Perfect | Grammar | EnglishClub The Past Perfect tense is quite an easy tense to understand and to use. This tense talks about the “past in the past”. In this lesson we look at the structure and use of the Past Perfect tense, followed by a quiz to check your understanding. How do we make the Past Perfect tense? The structure of the Past Perfect tense is: subject + auxiliary have + main verb conjugated in Past Simple   had past participle The auxiliary verb (have) is conjugated in the Past Simple: had The main verb is invariable in past participle form: -ed (or irregular) For negative sentences we insert not between the auxiliary verb and the main verb. For question sentences, we exchange the subject and the auxiliary verb. Look at these example sentences with the Past Perfect tense:   subject auxiliary verb   main verb   + I had   finished my work. + You had   stopped before me. – She had not gone to school. – We had not left.   ? Had you   arrived?   ? Had they   eaten dinner? Contraction with Past Perfect When we use the Past Perfect in speaking, we often contract the subject and the auxiliary verb. We also sometimes do this in informal writing: I had I’d you had you’d he had she had it had he’d she’d it’d we had we’d they had they’d I’d eaten already. They’d gone home. In negative sentences, we may contract the auxiliary verb and “not”: I hadn’t finished my meal. Anthony hadn’t had a day off for months. The ‘d contraction is also used for the auxiliary verb would. For example, we’d can mean: We had, OR We would But usually the main verb is in a different form, for example: We had arrived (past participle) We would arrive (base) It is always clear from the context. How do we use the Past Perfect tense? The Past Perfect tense expresses action in the past before another action in the past. This is the past in the past. For example: The train left at 9am. We arrived at 9:15am. When we arrived, the train had left. The train had left when we arrived. past present future Train leaves in past at 9:00     We arrive in past at 9:15     Look at some more examples: I wasn’t hungry. I had just eaten. They were hungry. They had not eaten for five hours. I didn’t know who he was. I had never seen him before. “Mary wasn’t at home when I arrived.” / “Really? Where had she gone?” You can sometimes think of the Past Perfect tense like the Present Perfect tense, but instead of the time being now the time is before.   have done →     had done →         past present future For example, imagine that you arrive at the station at 9:15am. The stationmaster says to you: “You are too late. The train has left.” Later, you tell your friends: “We were too late. The train had left.” We often use the Past Perfect in reported speech after verbs like: said, told, asked, thought, wondered Look at these examples: He told us that the train had left. I thought I had met her before, but I was wrong. He explained that he had closed the window because of the rain. I wondered if I had been there before. I asked them why they had not finished. Past Perfect Quiz EnglishClub : Learn English : Grammar : Verbs : Tense : Tenses : Past Perfect

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Past Perfect Tense | ENGLISH PAGE

Past Perfect Tense | ENGLISH PAGE The past perfect is a verb tense which is used to show that an action took place once or many times before another point in the past. Read on for detailed descriptions, examples, and present perfect exercises. Past Perfect Forms The past perfect is formed using had + past participle. Questions are indicated by inverting the subject and had. Negatives are made with not. Statement: You had studied English before you moved to New York. Question: Had you studied English before you moved to New York? Negative: You had not studied English before you moved to New York. Complete List of Past Perfect Forms Past Perfect Uses USE 1 Completed Action Before Something in the Past The past perfect expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past. It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past. Examples: I had never seen such a beautiful beach before I went to Kauai. I did not have any money because I had lost my wallet. Tony knew Istanbul so well because he had visited the city several times. Had Susan ever studied Thai before she moved to Thailand? She only understood the movie because she had read the book. Kristine had never been to an opera before last night. We were not able to get a hotel room because we had not booked in advance. A: Had you ever visited the U.S. before your trip in 2006? B: Yes, I had been to the U.S. once before. USE 2 Duration Before Something in the Past (Non-Continuous Verbs) With non-continuous verbs and some non-continuous uses of mixed verbs, we use the past perfect to show that something started in the past and continued up until another action in the past. Examples: We had had that car for ten years before it broke down. By the time Alex finished his studies, he had been in London for over eight years. They felt bad about selling the house because they had owned it for more than forty years. Although the above use of past perfect is normally limited to non-continuous verbs and non-continuous uses of mixed verbs, the words live, work, teach, and study are sometimes used in this way even though they are NOT non-continuous verbs. IMPORTANT Specific Times with the Past Perfect Unlike with the present perfect, it is possible to use specific time words or phrases with the past perfect. Although this is possible, it is usually not necessary. Example: She had visited her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she moved in with them in 1996. MOREOVER If the past perfect action did occur at a specific time, the simple past can be used instead of the past perfect when before or after is used in the sentence. The words before and after actually tell you what happens first, so the past perfect is optional. For this reason, both sentences below are correct. Examples: She had visited her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she moved in with them in 1996. She visited her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she…

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Learn English Tenses: PAST PERFECT

Past Perfect Tense: Rules And Examples – Thesaurus.com

Past Perfect Tense: Rules And Examples An amazing thing happened the other day. A man had finished his jog around the block when he saw a tiger stroll down the sidewalk. A woman nearby told him that the tiger had escaped from the circus. Before an influencer could take a selfie with the tiger, a troupe of clowns had chased it down the street. On the news later that night, a newscaster said that the tiger’s handler had caught him before anyone got hurt. What do you think of this little story? It was pretty interesting, but did you also catch that used a neat bit of grammar called the past perfect tense? What is past perfect tense? When we want to express actions or states of being we use words called verbs. When it comes to English verbs, we use many different verb tenses in our sentences. The tense of the verb, generally speaking, tells you when in time an action or state happens. In the case of past perfect tense, it tells us that an event happened in the past before another event in the past.  For example, the sentence Daniel had left by the time Erica got to his house uses the past perfect tense to say that Daniel left his house before Erica arrived. Both of these actions happened in the past, but one of them happened before the other. If we break apart the name of this verb tense, we can see it is telling us how to use it: Past: The verb tense refers to an action or state that occurred before now. Perfect: Generally speaking, perfect verb tenses refer to completed states/actions. In the case of past perfect tense, we often refer to an action/state that was totally completed before another one. There’s a lot more to say about the simple past tense than you might think. Read more about it here. When do you use perfect past tense? One of the main reasons that we use the past perfect tense, also called the pluperfect tense, is to indicate  that a past action or state happened before another past action or state. You can see examples of this in the following sentences: I had caught ten fish before my dad caught one. When we found our dog, he had gotten stuck in a fence. She didn’t eat any of the stew because she had already eaten a big lunch. All of these sentences use different constructions, but in all three the clause that uses the past perfect tense describes an action that happened earlier in time than the clause that uses the simple past tense. Sometimes, the event that an action or state is being compared to isn’t always explicitly stated. For example: With a quick glance, I could tell that the teenagers had visited the store. In this sentence, the action described with the past perfect tense isn’t being compared to another past action that is specifically mentioned in the sentence. However, the context of the sentence implies that the teenagers visited the store before I did or before I arrived at the store. Another common reason that we use the past perfect…

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How To Master The Past Perfect Spanish Tense In 5 Minutes

How To Master The Past Perfect Spanish Tense In 5 Minutes Get our free email course, Shortcut to Conversational. Have conversations faster, understand people when they speak fast, and other tested tips to learn faster. More info In Spanish, there are five different ways to speak about the past, and in this post, you’ll learn how to master the Past Perfect Spanish tense (or pluscuamperfecto in Español), (PS, we did a comprehensive breakdown of each Spanish past tense here) Fortunately, this tense is relatively straightforward – so let’s not waste any more time and get started. When To Use Past Perfect Spanish (aka pluscuamperfecto) Spanish speakers use the past perfect tense to talk about an action that took place in the past, prior to another already completed action. Although it may sound a little bit confusing at first, you can think of this tense as the Spanish equivalent to “I had done this…” in English. For example: I had lived with a few roommates before finding my first place for myself As you can see, this sentence refers to an action that was completed, prior to a separate past action. However, the concept of an action being completed before another previous action doesn’t always need to be explicitly stated. In many cases, it will be implied due to previous context, or by assumption. I had studied enough before taking the test (stated) I had studied enough (implied) Past Perfect Spanish Conjugation If you’re already familiar with the present perfect tense (and we recommend that you are), then you’ll immediately recognise that the past perfect conjugation is very similar. Past perfect Spanish requires you to use the verb haber (to have) and conjugate it in the imperfect tense as an auxiliary verb, and then add the necessary past participle of the action verb. This gives us the following formula: subject + haber in the imperfect + action verb in its participle (-ado/-ido) As a reminder, below is the auxiliary verb haber, conjugated in the imperfect tense. Subject Haber English Yo Había I had Tú Habías You had Él, ella Había He/she had Ustedes Habían You (plural) had Nosotros Habíamos We had Ellos Habían They had Once you know how to conjugate haber, all you need to do is add the past participle of the action verb. Remember, the past participle is normally formed by changing the ending of the action verb and adding -ado for verbs ending in -AR, or -ido for verbs ending in -ER or -IR. Let’s review some examples of past participles. AR Verbs …ado English Ayudar Ayudado Helped Buscar Buscado Searched Escuchar Escuchado Heard Caminar Caminado Walked ER and IR  verbs …ido English Poder Podido Could Comer Comido Eaten Vivir Vivido Lived Sentir Sentido Felt Of course, there are some exceptions to the general past participle rule. Below is a list of the most common irregular verbs which require a different past participle. Verb Past Participle English Abrir Abierto Opened Cubrir Cubierto Covered Devolver Devuelto Returned Escribir Escrito Wrote Hacer Hecho Made Resolver Resuelto Resulted Satisfacer Satisfecho Satisfied Decir Dicho Said Descubrir Descubierto Discovered Volver Vuelto Returned Imponer Impuesto Imposed Morir Muerto Died Poner Puesto Put Romper Roto Broken Ver Visto Seen Just to recap. In this post, we explained: 1) how to conjugate the auxiliary verb haber 2) how to find the past participle of the action verb Remember this gives us the formula: subject + haber in the imperfect + action verb in its participle (-ado/-ido) One last thing to mention is that the auxiliary verb and the past participle cannot be separated under any circumstance. And now you’re ready to start using past perfect Spanish. Let’s finish by reviewing some examples of the past perfect tense in action,…

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