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Past Perfect Tense: Meaning, Definition, Formula, Structure and Uses with Examples

Learning English with The AN and freSy

The past tense is perfect! The past perfect tense which is also sometimes called the pluperfect tense is something that is used frequently in both spoken and written English. This tense can also be referred to as the pluperfect tense. When discussing an incident that occurred before a particular time in the past, it is appropriate to speak about that event in this tense. This might sound difficult, but in reality, it’s not at all difficult.

In the following segment, we are going to have a far more comprehensive look at the past perfect tense, as well as the guidelines that surround the use of this tense. When referring to the past, you will be able to compose statements that are much richer in specificity and complexity as a result of this.

Table of Content
  • What is the Past Perfect Tense?
  • Definition of the Past Perfect Tense
  • Past Perfect Tense Structure
  • Past Perfect Tense Formula
  • Past Perfect Tense Rules
  • Purpose of Past Perfect Tense
  • Past Perfect Tense Examples
  • Past Perfect Tense Exercise
  • Past Perfect Tense Worksheet

What is the Past Perfect Tense?

The past perfect tense, also known as the pluperfect tense, denotes that one action from the past was finished before moving on to the next action from the past. The past perfect sentence should be used exclusively when describing an event that happened in the past before another event.

The use of the past perfect participle denotes an activity that was finished in the past. The use of the past perfect participle eliminates a great deal of confusion regarding the chronological sequence of the events.

When you use the past perfect present, you are indicating that one action occurred in the past before another action.

When used in a sentence, the past perfect participle is often accompanied by adjectives such as before, after, already, as well as yet.

In comparison, the use of the simple past tense indicates that there was only one action that took place in the past at a particular moment in time.

Definition of the Past Perfect Tense

“The form of a verb that is used to show that an action had already finished when another action happened” is how the Cambridge Dictionary defines the past perfect tense. The past perfect tense is described as “the form of a verb that expresses an action completed before a particular point in the past, formed in English with had and the past participle” by the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary.

Another definition of the past perfect tense given by the Merriam Webster Dictionary is as follows. According to it, the past perfect tense is “ the form of the verb that is used in referring to an action that was completed by a particular time in the past.” The Collins Dictionary puts it a little differently. According to it, the past perfect tense is “a tense indicating an action as completed or a state as having ended before a specified or implied time in the past,” and they also call the tense with another term – ‘pluperfect.’Definition of the Future Perfect Continuous Tense

The Future Perfect Continuous Tense, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is defined as a tense form used “when we are looking back to the past from a point in the future, and we want to emphasise the length or duration of an activity or event.”

Past Perfect Tense Structure

When talking about activities that were finished before a certain moment in the past, the “Past Perfect” tense should be used.

The form of the Past Perfect is created by combining the auxiliary verb’s past participle with the word had.

Positive Sentence Negative Sentence Affirmative Sentence
S + had + past participle + … S + had not/hadn’t + past participle + … Had + S + past participle + …?
She had finished the test. She hadn’t finished the test. Had she finished the test?

Past Perfect Tense Formula

So, here is the formula of the past perfect tense.

Subject + had + past participle + the rest of the sentence

Past Perfect Tense Rules

The construction of the past perfect tense is very comparable to that of the present perfect tense. The past perfect tense, which is very similar to the present perfect tense, is formed by combining the auxiliary word “had” with the primary verb’s past participle. The only distinction is that when speaking in the past tense, the auxiliary word “had” is used instead of the first, second, or third pronoun depending on which one is functioning as the subject of the sentence. In most cases, the past participle of ordinary verbs is identical to the verb’s past tense form. If you have a good comprehension of the past participle, you won’t have any trouble understanding as well as using the past tense in your writing and conversation because you will be able to do so accurately.

The very next thing that you need to keep in mind is that a statement that utilizes the form of the verb known as the past perfect makes use of not one but two verbs: a helping verb and the primary verb. The assisting word that is used here is “had.” The word “had” will be utilized with all of the verbs and questions.

Purpose of Past Perfect Tense

It is a term that is used to indicate an activity that was finished before a specific period in the past.

When referring to an event that transpired in the past more than once, the past perfect sentence should be utilized for the event that happened first. These kinds of statements are linked together using conjunctions like when, after, before, or already.

It is also used to characterize a sentence that does not have two parts but makes it abundantly obvious that the event in question took place a very long time ago through the use of the sentence itself.

For instance:
  • I had already purchased my new vehicle. He had finished cooking quite a while ago.
  • It is used to characterize a desire, wish, or anticipation from the past that was not met, among other things.
  • It is a term that is used to characterize negative actions that occurred in the past that subsequently had an impact.

After converting the direct speech of present perfect as well as past indeterminate tenses into indirect speech, we discovered that they had transformed into past perfect tenses.

Past Perfect Tense Examples

  1. I had called the doctor for an appointment but it was already full.
  2. I had never met anyone like him before I met Jack.
  3. He had still not reached his home.
  4. She had just received the parcel.
  5. He had drawn the sketch of a map.
  6. Had she lived in this house?
  7. John had traveled to Venice until last month.

Past Perfect Tense Exercise

  1. I saw the web series.
  2. John ate his lunch.
  3. The equipment worked well.
  4. Rohan went to the garage.
  5. His friends said they were going to the new cafe.
  6. Shaun wanted to go to the Maldives.
  7. The girls played very well.
  8. Ricky painted an amazing painting.
Answers
  1. I had seen the web series.
  2. John had eaten his lunch.
  3. The equipment had worked well.
  4. Rohan had gone to the garage.
  5. His friends had said they were going to the new cafe.
  6. Shaun had wanted to go to the Bahamas.
  7. The girls played very well.
  8. Ricky had painted an amazing painting.

Past Perfect Tense Worksheet

  1. She ______ (finish) her homework before she went to bed. => Answer: had finished
  2. By the time we arrived, they ______ (already/leave). => Answer: had already left
  3. He ______ (not/eat) anything because he had already eaten lunch. => Answer: had not eaten
  4. When I got to the cinema, the movie ______ (start) and I missed the beginning. => Answer: had started
  5. They ______ (visit) Paris twice before they decided to move there. => Answer: had visited
  6. Before he arrived at the party, she ______ (already/leave). => Answer: had already left
  7. By the time we got to the restaurant, they ______ (finish) eating. => Answer: had finished
  8. I ______ (not/see) that movie before last night. => Answer: had not seen
  9. She ______ (not/visit) her grandparents for a long time before last summer. => Answer: had not visited
  10. By the time they arrived at the airport, the plane ______ (already/leave). => Answer: had already left

Past Perfect Tense- FAQs

The historical period indicated by the use of the past perfect comes before the present. It is used to make it abundantly obvious that one event occurred in the past before another occurrence. It is irrelevant which incident is described first because the order of events is made obvious by the use of the present perfect tense.

Combining the auxiliary word had with the V3 to create the past perfect simple tense gives the sentence its characteristic sound. (past participle). A regular verb’s V3 form, also known as its past participle, has the exact same appearance as the verb in its past simple form.

After Jay had finished his work, she went to the game.

Riya washed the floor when the workers had gone.

John had known about it for a while.

We didn’t say anything until he had finished painting.

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