Basic English: Past Perfect Tense (English Mania Spoken english classes in bhubaneswar)

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We don’t use the past perfect a lot in English, but it is useful, and it sounds very good if you can use it correctly. Also, it’s really easy to make – just the past simple of ‘have’ and the past participle.

The past perfect refers to a time earlier than before now. It is used to make it clear that one event happened before another in the past. It does not matter which event is mentioned first – the tense makes it clear which one happened first.

In these examples, Event A is the event that happened first and Event B is the second or more recent event:


 Event A                                      Event B

John had gone out            when I arrived in the office.


Event B                                     Event A

When they arrived                      we had already started cooking.


 Event B                                   Event A

He was very tired              because he hadn’t slept well.



The Past Perfect tense in English is composed of two parts:

The past tense of the verb to have (had) + the past participle of the main verb.


Subject              had         past participle


She                      had              given


She                    hadn’t         asked.


Had                    they            arrived?



‘Just’ is used with the past perfect to refer to an event that was only a short time earlier than before now, e.g.


The train had just left when I arrived at the station.

She had just left the room when the police arrived.

I had just put the washing out when it started to rain.



Other Example


  • I had been (I’d been)
  • You had gone (you’d gone)
  • She had met (she’d met)
  • He had played (he’d played)
  • It had rained (it’d rained)
  • We had bought (we’d bought)
  • They had studied (they’d studied)



  • I had not been (I hadn’t been)
  • You had not gone (you hadn’t gone)
  • She had not met (she hadn’t met)
  • He had not played (he hadn’t played)
  • It had not rained (it hadn’t rained)
  • We had not bought (we hadn’t bought)
  • They had not studied (they hadn’t studied)


‘wh’ questions

  • When had I come?
  • Why had you eaten?
  • Where had she gone?
  • When had it rained?
  • Why had he studied?
  • How had we met?
  • When had they left?


‘yes / no’ question

  • Had I come?
  • Had you eaten?
  • Had she gone?
  • Had it rained?
  • Had he studied?
  • Had we met?
  • Had they left?




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