Learn how and when to use the Past Perfect Tense in English with rules and examples.
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Forming the Past Perfect Tense
The Past Perfect is used to talk about actions that were completed before some point in the past.
The Past Perfect is formed by combining had with the past participle of the main verb.
S + had + past participle + …
She had finished the test.
S + had not/hadn’t + past participle + …
She hadn’t finished the test.
Had + S + past participle + …?
Had she finished the test?
How to Use the Past Perfect Tense
The Past Perfect Tense is used:
- To describe an action finished before another past action
Richard had gone out when his wife arrived in the office.
- To describe an action happened before a specific time in the past
Christine had never been to an opera before last night.
- To describe cause and effect (combine with Past Simple)
I got stuck in traffic because there had been an accident.
- To emphasize the result of an activity in the past
I had been to London twice by the time I got a job in New York.
Time Expressions Used with the Past Perfect Tense
- The moment that