Past Perfect Tense
timeline, form, uses

Past Perfect Tense timeline, form, uses​

Past Perfect talks about completed actions in the past. Below we’ll explore the Past Perfect tense timeline, form and uses, with examples.

The Past Perfect tense can express the duration of a completed action.

It can also talk about a completed action in the past, before another action in the past.


The Past Perfect is formed with:
– auxiliary verb ‘had’ (the Past Simple of ‘to have’)
– main verb in the Past Participle form – verb base +ed / +d / irregular

Past Perfect tense

affirmative: subject + had + main verb
negative: subject + had + not + main verb
question: had + subject + main verb
negative question: had + subject + not + main verb

Forms in the Past Perfect of the verb to leave


I had left
you had left
he/she/it had left
we had left
you had left
they had left


I had not left
you had not left
he/she/it had not left
we had not left
you had not left
they had not left


had I left?
had you left?
had he/she/it left?
had we left?
had you left?
had they left?

negative questions

had I not left?
had you not left?
had he, she, it not left?
had we not left?
had you not left?
had they not left?


to show that an action was completed in the past before another action happened
She had read the book before she went to the see the film.
Robert had not studied English before he went to England.
(Notice the 2nd verb is in the Past Simple)

with indirect speech (also called reported speech)
She told the teacher that she had not done her homework.

with ‘if’ conditional clauses
If I had not washed my car, it probably would not have rained today.
If she had eaten her vegetables, her mother would have let her have pudding.

to express regret about something in the past
I wish I had listened at school.
He wished he hadn’t spent all his money on the car.


Auxiliary verbs are often contracted, especially in spoken and informal written language.

Past Perfect tense timeline, form, uses

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