The Past Perfect Tense

We don't use the past perfect a lot in English, but it is useful, and it sounds very good if you can use it correctly. Also, it's really easy to make - just the past simple of 'have' and the past participle.

(Learn about USING the past perfect here)

The positive - make it with 'had' + the past participle (usually made by adding 'ed' to the infinitive, but a few verbs have irregular past participles):

(Also, here's some help if you are not sure how to pronounce '-ed' at the end of a verb).

  • I had been (I'd been)
  • You had gone (you'd gone)
  • She had met (she'd met)
  • He had played (he'd played)
  • It had rained (it'd rained)
  • We had bought (we'd bought)
  • They had studied (they'd studied)

The short form for 'had' is 'd.
(Be careful not to confuse it with 'would'. Would is followed by the infinitive - 'I'd go', whereas had is followed by the past participle - 'I'd gone').

For the negative just add 'not':

  • I had not been (I hadn't been)
  • You had not gone (you hadn't gone)
  • She had not met (she hadn't met)
  • He had not played (he hadn't played)
  • It had not rained (it hadn't rained)
  • We had not bought (we hadn't bought)
  • They had not studied (they hadn't studied)

Here's a exercise about the positive and negative forms.

And to make a 'yes / no' question put 'had' before the subject:

  • Had I come?
  • Had you eaten?
  • Had she gone?
  • Had it rained?
  • Had he studied?
  • Had we met?
  • Had they left?

For 'wh' questions put the question word at the beginning:

  • When had I come?
  • Why had you eaten?
  • Where had she gone?
  • When had it rained?
  • Why had he studied?
  • How had we met?
  • When had they left?

Finally here's an exercise about past perfect questions.

Learn about USING the past perfect here

Need more practice? Get more Perfect English Grammar with our PDFs, videos, flashcards and more.