Sentences in the Past Perfect Tense

Past Perfect Tense - Lesson #2

Even though the past perfect is not used a lot in English, it can still be useful in certain situations. Let's see when we can use the past perfect.

1. We use the past perfect to emphasize what action or event happened first.
  • I had studied Korean before I came to Korea.
Remember that many times the past perfect is not necessary or there is an easier way to express the same idea using the simple past tense.

2. We can also the past perfect to show that something happened before a specific time.
  • She had finished all her work before the other employees even started.
3. We use it for report speech.
  • The doctor asked if I had had a previous injury.
Note: "had had" is not a mistake! It is possible with the past perfect!

4. We can also use it with the word "wish" to show that we are unhappy or dissatisfied.
  • I wish I had not drunk alcohol last night.
  • She wishes that she had studied harder when she was in high school.
Now, let's take a look at how to make a sentence. If you know how to make sentences in the present perfect, then this will be very easy for you.

Subject + had (not) + past participle…
  • She stayed up all night because she had not studied.
  • I had learned some Chinese before I visited last year.
  • They had already eaten before I arrived.
  • He had said that we would not need to bring any money.
  • Nick had already fallen asleep when I arrived.
  • She had eaten all of the cookies before we came.
  • We had not arrived by the time the train left.
  • The company had been established before 2001.
Remember to use the past participle "been" with adjectives, nouns, and prepositional phrases.
  • He had been a doctor for 10 years, but now he is retired.
  • They had been on the phone for hours.
  • She had been angry long before I met her that day.
If we add the word "just" to the sentence, it means that action or event ended very recently.
  • I had just finished when she came.
  • They had just come when the earthquake started.
  • I had just arrived when it started to rain.
We can make a contraction using pronouns and had. Be careful because this is the same contraction as "would".

I had I'dI would I'd
She had She'dShe would She'd

But we can tell the difference easily. "Had" is followed by a past participle and "would" is followed by a regular verb.
  • I'd finished my work before 8.
    (=I had finished my work before 8.)

  • I'd go if I could.
    (=I would go if I could.)
Example Sentences
  • I had never met him before the meeting.
  • He had finished studying when she came.
  • She had already finished cooking when we arrived.
  • I had heard about her before I met her.
  • Luckily, we had found our bag before the plane left.

  • She had never played tennis before last week.
  • I hadn't heard of global warming until I saw that movie.
  • They had already fallen asleep before midnight.
  • She had graduated before 2010.
  • I had met her before last week.

  • He said that he had finished all of this work.
  • She said that they had left already.
  • Bill said that his wife had graduated from Harvard.
  • Karen said that she hadn't been to New York in many years.
  • The children said that they had finished their homework.

  • I wish I had been nicer to my teachers when I was young.
  • She wishes she had prepared more for her job interview.
  • They wish they had never gotten married.
  • He wishes he had never gotten plastic surgery.
  • Bill wishes he had invested more money in that stock.
English Conversation 1

A) Have you finished your project?
B) Yes. I had finished it before last week.
A) Really? I still haven't started!
B) You had better start right away.
A) I wish I had started when you did.

English Conversation 2

A) I thought you were on a trip.
B) I missed my flight.
A) What happened?
B) I got to the airport on time, but I lost my phone at the airport store. By the time I found my phone and got to the gate, the plane had already left.
A) That's terrible.
B) I wish I had been more careful.

Improve your English grammar and learn to speak fluently with this simple practice. Finish the sentences below and then practice making your own sentences. It is the best way to learn English fast!

Tip: Say the sentences aloud. This will help you practice speaking English and improve your English fluency.

I had _______________ when _______________.
When _______________, I had already _______________.
He had _______________ before _______________.
Before _______________, he had already _______________.
They had _______________ by 9 p.m.
I wish I had _______________.
She wishes she had _______________.
I wish I had _______________ more when I was young.