Past Perfect Tense (Formula, Examples & Exercise)

Past Perfect Tense

ThePast perfectWe were stunned to learn that the pluperfect verb tense is used to describe actions that were performed before a certain point in the past.Graffiti had been left“Tootles was at our front door.” Tootles was at our front door. We were relieved.Had been usedWashable paint

Past perfect tense can be used to talk about events that occurred before another. Imagine yourself waking up in the morning and going outside to get your newspaper. You return to your home and notice a strange message written across your front door. Tootles was there. How would you describe this moment to your friends later? Perhaps you’d say: I turned back to my house and saw that Tootles was therehad defacedMy front door!

Your friends will not only feel indignant for you, but they will also be able understand why Tootles has graffitied the door at one point in the past.BeforeThe moment you saw his work this morning, because you used thePast perfectIt was difficult to describe the misdeed.

The Past Perfect Formula

The formula to make the past perfect tense ishad + [past participle]. It doesn’t matter whether the subject is singular, plural or mixed; the formula remains the same.

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When is Past Perfect to Be Used

What is the difference between simple and past perfect? If you are referring to a point in the past but want to refer to an event that occurred even earlier, the past perfect is the best way to communicate the sequence of events. It is also more precise and clearer. Take a look at the difference between these sentences.UsedWashable paint Tootles was a relief.Had been usedWashable paint

Although it is a subtle distinction, it doesn’t tie Tootles’s use of washable painting to any specific moment. Instead, readers might read it as “We were relieved That Tootles was in a habit of using washing paint.” The second sentence uses the past perfect, which makes it clear that the sentence refers to a specific instance.

The past perfect can also be used when you’re expressing a condition or a result.had woken upI would have caught Tootles red handed earlier in the morning.

The sentence that explains the condition (the “if-clause”) uses the past perfect.

The main reason for writing a verb in past perfect tense in most cases is to show it occurred before other actions in the sentence. Verbs written in simple past tense are used to describe them. It is uncommon to write a paragraph that contains every verb in the past imperfect tense.

The Past Perfect: When to Avoid It

If you are not trying to convey a sequence of events, don’t use past perfect. If you were asked by your friends what you did after discovering the graffiti, they might be confused if it was: IHad been cleanedIt should be removed from the door.

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You don’t tell them what the next step is. It doesn’t have to be mentioned explicitly, but it must be clear in context. The past perfect is meaningless in this instance because there is no context.

How to make the Past perfect negative

It is easy to make the negative from the past perfect! Simply insert!NotBetweenHadAnd[past participle]We searched for witnesses but were unsuccessful.Had not seenTootles in action. Tootles in actionThere was no inclusionWe would not have known who it was if he included his name in the message.

How to ask a question

This is the formula to ask a question in past perfect tense.had + [subject] + [past participle].HadTootlescausedTrouble in other areas before he hit ours?

past perfect chart 1
past perfect chart 2

*The past participle of “to get” is “gotten” in American English. In British English, the past participle is “got.” 

Past perfect tense indicates the finished or completed actions of the past. For example, I had taken two doses of medicine before the fever vanished.

Signal Words

  • before yesterday
  • already
  • when
  • until that day

Structure / Formula

Subject + had + Past participle (v3)

Hehadtraveled last year.
He/she/it /I/we/theyhadPast participle(V3)

Positive Sentences

To make the positive sentences, we use this structure,

Subject + had + Past participle (V3)

Examples of positive sentences

  • The players had lost heart before the match finished.
  • Chris had completed the assignment before he went to school.

Negative Sentences

We add ‘not’ after auxiliary verb to make the sentence negative.

Subject + had + not + Past participle (V3)

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Examples of negative sentences.

  • The players had not lost heart before the match finished.
  • Chris had not completed the assignment before he went to school.

Question Sentences

To make the question, ‘had’ come at the start of the sentence and question mark at the end.

Had + subject + Past participle (V3) + ?

Examples of question sentences.

  • Had the players lost heart before the match finished?
  • Had Chris completed the assignment before he went to school?

Example Sentences

1. He had drawn the sketch of a map.
2. The match had finished when I reached the stadium.
3. Had she lived in this house?
4. I had not planted the flowers.
5. John had traveled to Venice until last month.
6. They had eaten mangoes.
7. The hero had not fought with cannibals.
8. He had read his favorite book before yesterday.
9. The players had lost heart before the match finished.
10. I had drafted my plan before I started work.

View also: Past Perfect Tense Practice Test

Exercise

  1. The mechanic ________ my bike before I reached the workshop. (fix)
  2. She _______ the marathon. (win)
  3. He _______ all his money. (spend)
  4. The queen _______ the golden crown. (wearr)
  5. The old sailor _______ many oars. (utilize)
  6. The student _______ many hours before the exam started. (study)
  7. The farmer _______ wheat last year. (grow)
  8. We _________ her yesterday. (visit)
  9. The patient ________ consciousness before the doctor’s arrival. (regain)
  10. I ________ my work before you came. (finish)

Answers

  1. The mechanic had fixed my bike before I reached the workshop.
  2. She had won the marathon.
  3. He had spent all his money.
  4. The Queen had worn the golden crown.
  5. The old sailor had utilized many oars.
  6. The student had studied many hours before the exam started.
  7. The farmer had grown wheat last year.
  8. We had visited her yesterday. (visit)
  9. The patient had regained consciousness before the doctor’s arrival.
  10. had finished my work before you came.

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