Past Perfect Tense | Grammar Rules and Examples

Learn how and when to use the Past Perfect Tense in English with rules and examples.

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.

Positive Sentence:

S + had + past participle + …


She had finished the test.

Negative Sentence:

S + had not/hadn’t + past participle + …


She hadn’t finished the test.

Question form:

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 that 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

  • Already
  • Yet
  • For
  • Since
  • Just
  • After
  • Before
  • Until
  • The moment that

The Past Perfect | Picture

Past Perfect Tense


Past Perfect Tense | Grammar Rules and Examples 2

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