Past Perfect Tense – English Grammar Tenses

Past Perfect Tense – English Grammar Tenses


The Past Perfect tense expresses something that happened before another action in the past. This is the past in the past.  We form the past perfect by using ‘had' and the past participle of the verb.

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Form of Past Perfect Tense
Form of Past Perfect Tense

Form of Past Perfect Tense


  • S + had + Past Participle


  • The train had just left when I arrived at the station.
  • She had met him before the party.
  • Kate had wanted to see the movie, but she did not have money for the ticket.
  • She had established her company before 2008.
  • I did not have any money because I had lost my wallet.
  • She had never seen a bear before she moved to Alaska


  • S + had not + Past Participle


  • had not written to my mother in years.
  • had not called the police before I investigated the noise in the garden.
  • They hadn’t been here yesterday.
  • She hadn’t done a good job
  • hadn’t ever worked there before


  • Had + S + Past Participle


  • Had the weather been nice in previous years?
  • Had the team planned its next move before the weather changed?
  • Had it taken so long to get a reservation in the past?
  • Had you ever visited the U.S. before your trip in 2006?
  • Had you ever seen the movie Titanic before you lived in the USA?


  • Who/What/When/Where/Why/How + had + S + Past Participle ?


  • Why had the bus stopped in the previous city?
  • When had he visited New York?
  • How had he paid for college?
  • What had you eaten before you got sick?
  • Where had the team planned its next move before the weather changed?
  • Who had they originally found to cater the event?

Note: You can also use contractions:  I had = I'd;  you had = you'd;  he had = he'd; she had = she'd;   we had = we'd;  they had = they'd

To form the past participle:  add “ed” to the infinitive form of regular verbs. We use the same form for each subject (e.g., I, you, he).

I had decidedI hadn't decidedHad I decided?
You had decidedYou hadn't decidedHad you decided?
She had decidedShe hadn't decidedHad she decided?
He had decidedHe hadn't decidedHad he decided?
We had decidedWe hadn't decidedHad we decided?
They had decidedThey hadn't decidedHad they decided?

You might also like: Past Continuous Tense

Past Perfect Tense Uses

1. Past Perfect Tense is used to describe two action happened in the past. The action that happened first uses the past perfect. The next action will use the past simple.


  • My brother had done his homework before I arrived.
  • He hadn’t finished his breakfast when I saw him
  • John said he had been chosen as a beauty queen two years before.
  • Tom had always been a good student, so he was surprised when he failed the test
  • As soon as Elisa had finally fallen asleep, her alarm rang

2. Past Perfect Tense describe an action happens as a first condition for another action


  • Tom had prepared for the exams and was ready to do well
  • She had done her homework before her father asked her to do so

3. Past Perfect Tense describes an action that happened and was completed before a time in the past or before another completed action in the past.


  • They had had lunch when she arrived
  • She had eaten dinner before her husband came home.
  • He was happy because I had arrived early
  • By the time Mangesh finished his studies, he had been in Switzerland for over 5 years.

4. Past Perfect Tense is used to describe action that happened during a period of time in the past, before another time point


  • She had lived abroad for ten years when she received the transfer
  • Ricky had studied in Singapore before he did his master’s at Washington

5. Past Perfect Tense is used in conditional sentences of the third type to express unreal conditions (use “if) and express thoughts and feelings


  • If she had known that, she would have acted differently
  • If I had had the money, I would have bought a better car
  • I would have come to the party if I had been invited
  • If I had studied harder, I would have passed the test.
  • I wish my mother had told me more about her childhood

6. Past Perfect Tense is used to show reported speech. We can use the past perfect to tell someone what someone else had said


  • She told me she had washed his car
  • He wondered why she had been so unkind to him
  • Kim said that she hadn’t finished preparing her taxes

Recognition of Past Perfect Tense

The sentence contains the adverb below:

  • When
  • Before
  • After
  • By the time

Read more: English Grammar


Above is the most complete knowledge about the past perfect tense so that you can understand and use it correctly. Hope this knowledge will be of great help to you.

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