Past Perfect Tense


The Past Perfect is a common tense in English. You should understand it, and know it well.

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What's next?

  1. Read and understand the following explanations and examples

  2. Read and understand the Rules

  3. Practice, practice, practice with the Exercises



How do We Use this Tense?

PERFECT here means "complete, finished".

The Past Perfect is a form of the verb that shows the action was complete before some time in the past.

It does not mean the action was "perfect" (100%). It means the action was finished.

Here are the different usages of this tense:

The Past Perfect is often used together with the Simple Past.

For example: Kate had sold her apartment before she moved to New York.

The action closest to the present is in the Simple Past, and the action that came before it is in the Past Perfect.

Make sure you also read:

Past Perfect Tense, Common Uses with Examples

Examples of Typical Time Expressions


An action that happened
before another action in the past 

(The verbs are in bold)



He studied so much because he had received a lot of homework.

a boy studying




He had seen the ball before he hit it.

a football player after hitting the ball



They had practiced before they did it.

a boy and a girl danciing




She was surprised because she had never noticed it before.

a surprised girl



He had worked very hard before he finally won.

a winning boxer



She said she had bought the hat in Paris.

a lady with a nice hat



An action that happened before
a specific time in the past



They had already scored before the 9 o'clock break.

a football player running




He had finished building his house before 1999.

a workman



She had never played basketball before 2002.

a basketball girl



A state that started in the past,
and continued up to some time in the past


He had liked her before this happened.

a guy getting a drink in his face



She had wanted a cat, but received a fish.

a girl with a fish



The report had been ready before you spilled the coffee!

a report with split coffee



He had been healthy until he started overeating.

a man with a stomach ache



He had owned a car for 5 years before he switched to bicycle.

a guy with bycicle

Examples of
Typical Time Expressions

  • Just
  • Already
  • Yet
  • Ever
  • Never
  • once
  • 3 times
  • before
  • until then
  • in 1974
  • since 
  • for

Boy writing happily


What's Next?

  1. If you want, you can REREAD the previous explanations and examples

  2. Read and understand the Rules

  3. Practice, practice, practice with the Exercises

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