Unit 1.1

Past Perfect

Introduction

Past perfect is the tense used to talk about actions or events that took place earlier than other past actions in order to clarify that something had already happened at the time we are talking about.

Form

The past perfect structure is made up of the past of the verb to have followed by the past participle.

It has three forms: affirmative, negative and interrogative.

Affirmative

Its structure, in the affirmative form, is:
Subject + had + past participle + …

In this form:

  • had is the past tense of the verb to have.
  • regular past participles are formed by adding -d or -ed to the base form of verbs.
  • irregular past participles have to be learned by heart.
SUBJECT AUXILIARY VERB PAST PARTICIPLE
I/You/He/She/It/We/You/They had worked

Negative

Its full structure, in the negative form, is:
Subject + had not + past participle + …

Negative short form is hadn’t:
Subject + hadn’t + past participle + …

SUBJECT AUXILIARY VERB + NOT
PAST PARTICIPLE
I/You/He/She/It/We/You/They had not/hadn’t
worked

Interrogative

Its structure, in the interrogative form, is:
Had + subject + past participle + …?

AUXILIARY VERB SUBJECT PAST PARTICIPLE QUESTION MARK
Had I/You/He/She/It/We/You/They worked ?

 

Example

  1. If only /I wishI had got my salary!
  2. How long had your tutor been out of town?
  3. I had hoped that she would be a writer, but she wasn’t good at writing.
  4. It was the second time that I had reached my goal.

Use

We can use past perfect in the following cases:

  1. after if, wish and would rather to talk about past events that did not happen;
  2. to say how long something had continued up to a past moment;
  3. to express unrealized hopes and wishes;
  4. after it was the first/second… that… and similiar structures.

Summary

Past perfect is used to talk about past events that did not happen (with if, wish and would rather), to say how long something had continued up to a past moment, to express unrealized hopes and wishes, and with some specific structures (like it was the first/second… that…),

Past perfect is made up of the past simple of the verb to have followed by the past participle of the principal verb.

For example:
If only I had seen him yesterday! I would have told him the news.”  = it expresses unrealized actions.
“Nadia had lived in Manchester for 20 years before she moved to London.” = it expresses a continuous action in the past.
“I had hoped I would finish the essay in two days, but the topic is very complex.” = it is used to express an unrealized hope.
“It was the first time he had visited the UK.” = it refers to a past event in a previous past.
“He visited the UK for the first time when he was fifteen years old.” = We use the past simple when we mention the time the past action took place.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

Exercises

External link to Past Perfect exercises (541).




Translations

License