Forming and Using the Past Perfect Tense
The past perfect tense is often used in English when we are relating two events which happened in the past. It helps to show which event heppened first. This page will explain the rules for forming and using the tense.
Forming the past perfect tenseThis tense is formed using two components: the verb HAVE (in the past tense), and the past participle form of a verb. With a regular verb the past participle ends with -ED (just like the simple past). Irregular verbs have a special past participle form that you have to learn. Here are the rules, using the regular verb "arrive" and the irregular verb "eat":
Using the Past PerfectThe past perfect is used to show you which of two events happened first. Imagine that two things happened in the past:
Here, we don't know which order the events happened in. That may be important -- perhaps I went to see the movie after the discussion, or maybe I saw the movie before the discussion. There are many ways to make this sequence clear, and the past perfect is one of them. This is how we do it:
Here, we KNOW that the discussion took place FIRST -- even though the sentence describing it comes afterwards. We discussed the movie, and THEN I went to see it. This can be very useful when you are telling a story or relating a sequence of events. At any point in your story, you can jump BACK to a previous event, and your reader will not be confused, because the past perfect will make it clear that the event happened previously. Here is another example: