Past perfect tense in English
This chapter will discuss past perfect tense in English. This tense is used to indicate that an action in the past occurred before another action also in the past.
Structure of the past perfect tense in English
The past perfect is formed with the past simple of the auxiliary verb 'to have' and the past participle:
to have + past participle
Past participle of regular verbs
The past participle of regular verbs is formed by adding '-ed' to the infinitive of the verb.
- to talk - talked
- to want - wanted
- to listen - listened
Past participle of irregular verbs
The past participle of irregular verbs have different endings. Here are some examples:
- to eat - eaten
- to drink - drunk
- to run - run
How to form the past perfect tense
How the past perfect tense is formed, depends on whether the sentence is:
- Affirmative: expresses the truth of a certain assertion.
- Negative: expresses the falsity of a certain assertion.
- Interrogative: expresses a question.
Structure: Subject + auxiliary verb 'to have' in past (had) + past participle + rest of sentence
|Subject||Past form of 'to have'|
|He / she / it||had|
- I had eaten my breakfast when I left home.
- The bus had just left when they arrived at the bus stop.
- She was very tired because she had not slept well.
Structure: Subject + negative form of auxiliary verb 'to have' in the past (had not) + past participle + rest of sentence
|Subject||Negative form of 'to have' in past|
|He / she / it||had not|
- I had not watched this movie before.
- She had not met my sister before they went to dinner.
- They had not done their homework before they went to class.
Structure: Auxiliary verb 'to have' in past (had) + subject + past participle + rest of sentence + question mark
- Had you met my sister before?
- Had you watched this movie before?
- Had you done your homework before class?
Usage of the English past perfect
The past perfect tense in English is used to make clear that one event occurred before the other event in the past. A past perfect sentence usually consists of 2 actions that are described, one of which is in the past simple tense.
|For actions in the past that occured before another action also in the past.||
|Duration before something in the past.||
|Actions that have started in the past and continued to a specific point in the past.||
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