Past Perfect Tense Examples: Meaning, Rules,Exercise PDF [Available]

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Do tense rules and structures give you a headache? It might have at one point or the other, or the time you ascended the ladder of formulas from Present to Past and then to the Future Tense. Not to mention its transition from Simple tense to Perfect Continuous Tense. While within that transition, you would get to learn about the Past Perfect Tense, which specialises in talking about an action or happening of the past. As difficult as it may sound, you can still sustain a mastery over the Perfect Tense structure with the help of Past Perfect Tense examples and rules in this article, and boost your English Grammar skills.  

Tenses Rules and Examples in English Grammar

What is Past Perfect Tense?

First and foremost, you should note that the Past Perfect Tense is slightly different in terms of structure and usage from the Simple and Past Continuous Tense. After all, the past perfect tense is perfect for talking about something that happened before something else, that is also in the past. So, its formation consists of the auxiliary verb “had” and the past participle of the main verb. 

Let’s take a look at an example to know what is a Past Perfect Tense and how it works. 

Example: I had already eaten dinner when you arrived.

As you can see in this example, the first action, eating dinner, happened before the second action, arriving.

Structure and Rules of Past Perfect Tense

Let’s get straight with the fact that you cannot excel in the Past Perfect Tense unless you know its structure and rules well. Otherwise, how else would you analyse its usage in positive, negative and interrogative sentences, as well as in other situations about to be discussed here on?

Now, take a look at the picture above and observe that the Past Perfect Tense structure stands on the bricks of the Subject + Helping Verb (had) and a Main Verb or Past Participle (V3), followed by Object and the rest of the content. 

Take a look at these examples and you will know better about the Past Perfect Tense Structure:

1. When I woke up, the sun had already risen.
2. By the time I got home, my parents had already gone to bed.
3. He had never been to Europe before.
4. She had studied French for five years before moving to Paris.
5. I was worried because I hadn’t heard from her in a few days.

As you can observe, there are certain implications in a few sentences. They are following the rule of the first action and second action, ie., one past action precedes the second past action, a very common phenomenon of Perfect Tense. 

However, apart from the above-stated formulas, there is one more thing to be aware of while playing with Past Perfect in your sentence formation. This tense does not require you to keep switching between different helping verbs due to the changes in the subject or past participle of the main verb. Therefore, the only thing to be wary of while using a Past Perfect Tense sentence is spelling the regular and irregular verbs correctly.

You can Read All about Regular and Irregular Verbs Here in Detail!

When to Use a Past Perfect Tense?

All that rest now is sorting out the perfect timing to use a Past Perfect Tense. So, without much discussion let’s jump straight into checking the Usage of Past Perfect Tense with examples:

To show the order of two past events1. The train had left before I arrived at the station.
2. She had already finished her homework when she came to play. 
To talk about time up to a certain point in the past1. They had been living in London for ten years by the time they moved to New York.
2. I had written three novels by the time I was 30.
To explain why something happened1. He was tired because he had worked all day.
2. I was disappointed because she had broken her promise.
To express regret or hypothetical situations1. I wish I had studied harder for the test.
2. If I had known you were coming, I would have made dinner.

How to Make Past Perfect Tense Positive?

When it comes to making a Past Perfect Tense negative, you should go with these simple rules:

Subject [I, you, he/she/it, we, they] + had + past participle of the main verb

Example: She had finished her work before the deadline.

In this example, the subject is “she,” the helping verb “had” is used in the past perfect form, and the past participle of the main verb “finish” is “finished.” This structure shows that the action of finishing the work happened before a specific point in the past.

How to Make Past Perfect Tense Negative?

Although there is not much variation to make a Past Perfect tense negative than positive. However, you should still observe the following example to know the how. 

Subject [I, you, he/she/it, we, they] + had not [hadn’t] + past participle of the main verb

Example: They hadn’t visited that place before last summer.

In this example, the subject is “they,” the negative form of the helping verb “had” is “hadn’t,” and the past participle of the main verb “visit” is “visited.” This structure indicates that the action of visiting the place did not happen before last summer.

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Past Perfect Tense Examples

Check these sample sentences in the form of Past Perfect Tense for a deeper understanding:

Verb (V1)Past Perfect Tense Examples
FinishI had finished my homework before I went to dinner.
LeaveWhen I arrived at the party, everyone had already left.
FindShe had been to the library several times before she found the book she was looking for.
MeetHe had never met my parents before he came to my house.
SetBy the time we got to the beach, the sun had already set.
StayI was tired because I had stayed up late the night before.
GetShe was disappointed because she hadn’t gotten the job she wanted.
StudyI wish I had studied harder for the test.
HaveIf I had had more money, I would have bought that car.
LiveShe had been living in New York for five years before she moved to Los Angeles.
WorkHe had worked at the company for ten years before he retired.

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Past Perfect Tense Exercise PDF

Complete these sentences with an appropriate verb to make them a positive or negative past perfect tense sentence:

  1. By the time we (reach) the cinema, the movie ________ (start).
  2. She realized that she (lose) her phone after she ________ (leave) the restaurant.
  3. They were tired because they (work) all day long before they ________ (arrive) at the party.
  4. The children (finish) their homework before they ________ (go) out to play.
  5. He (read) the book before he ________ (watch) the movie adaptation.


1. By the time we reached the cinema, the movie had started.
2. She realized that she had lost her phone after she had left the restaurant.
3. They were tired because they had worked all day long before they arrived at the party.
4. The children had finished their homework before they went out to play.
5. He had read the book before he watched the movie adaptation.

Download the Past Perfect Exercises PDF with Answers

Do not stop here and take your knowledge to another level with this Past Perfect Exercise for practice:

Types of Tenses Chart 
Past TensePresent TenseFuture Tense
Simple Past TenseSimple Present TenseSimple Future Tense
Past Continuous TensePresent Continuous TenseFuture Continuous Tense
Past Perfect TensePresent Perfect TenseFuture Perfect Tense
Past Perfect Continuous
Present Perfect Continuous TenseFuture Perfect Continuous
Past Unreal (Third Conditional)Present Unreal (Second Conditional)Future Unreal (Mixed Conditional)

Explore more exciting reads below:

More from IdiomsMore from SynonymsMore from Antonyms
Idioms to Express SadnessSynonyms of EphemeralAntonyms of Misogyny
Idioms to Express SurpriseSynonyms of WelcomeAntonyms of Brave
Idioms to Express FriendshipSynonyms of CryAntonyms of Selfish
Idioms to Express ExcitementSynonyms of HugeAntonyms of Victim
No Pain No Gain MeaningSynonyms of JovialAntonyms of Lazy

This was all about the Past Perfect Tense Example, rules and more. Hope you understand the concept and where it’s used. You can also follow Leverage Edu for more exciting and informative blogs.

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