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The use & example of Past Perfect Tense

Level: B1
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Past Perfect also has the same structure as Present Perfect. However, the auxiliary verb to have has the form of the past had.

Let’s compare:
I have been there before (Present Perfect).
I had been there before (Past Perfect)
Had form is the same for all persons. After the auxiliary verb had, we put the third form of the verb known as a past participle. For the regular verbs we form it by adding -ed ending to the basic form:

She had just got up when I came.
I had spoken to her before she left.
I knew everything about London. I had lived there for 5 years.


We form questions in Past Perfect by using the inversion:

I had finished the letter when Jane arrived.
Had you finished the letter when Jane arrived?

We form negative sentences by adding not to the auxiliary verb had.

We usually use short form:

had + not = hadn’t

These are examples of negative sentences in Past Perfect:

We had met each other before.
We hadn’t met each other before. 

I had been to London.
I hadn’t been to London.


We use Past Perfect Tense to describe events or actions that happened earlier than other past events or actions:

I went to Africa in 1889. I had been there twice before.

Past Perfect is used in the same way as Present Perfect. Now let’s take a look at this sentence again and compare it:

I’m going to tell Mark that I have just seen his girlfriend with another boy.


Do not overuse the Past Perfect Tense. If one action follows another, we express both in Past Simple Tense:

I shouted ‘Hello’ when I saw Jenny.

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