Past Perfect Tense Rules, Examples and Structure (Formula)

Past Perfect Tense Rules and Examples with Sentence Structure. Definition of Past Perfect Tense with Examples and Sentences. Know the meaning and the use of past perfect tense. What is the past perfect tense? It is called the past tense of the past. Let’s read its definition and examples below;

What is the Past Perfect Tense?

The past perfect tense is used to talk about the action that finished before something in the past. It means that something happened before another action in the past. It can also express that something happened before a specific time in the past.


  • She had written a letter before her teacher said to her.
  • The children had played a game before father came.
  • When she read a newspaper, Tonny had completed his work.
  • He reached the station before the train had left.
  • George received his invitation letter after the program had finished.
  • Tom had eaten breakfast before he left for Melbourne City.
  • She had prepared coffee before the students woke up.
  • The man had helped the child before his parents came.

Note: In the above sentences, you can note that the past perfect tense has been formed using the auxiliary verb ‘had’ with the third form of the verb (Past Participle). The sentence of the past perfect tense is made with the conjunctions like when, before, after, because, until, by the time, etc.

Past Perfect Tense Rules, Examples and Structure (Formula)

Past Perfect Tense Examples and Rules

The past perfect tense is used to describe that an action happened before another action in the past. It is known as the past tense of the past. It also tells us that something took place before a specific time in the past.

The rules of past perfect tense are very simple. To make past perfect tense sentences, read the rules given below;

Rule – 1 We use the helping verb ‘had’ and the past participle form of the verb (third form) to make simple statements or sentences.

  • She had bought a book when you came.
  • The man cleaned the house after the owner had come.

Rule – 2 The auxiliary verb ‘had’ is used with singular or plural nouns or pronouns.

  • The teacher had taught the lesson by 10 o’clock.
  • The students had written an essay before the evening.
  • You had gone when she came to meet you.

Note: In the above sentences the auxiliary verb ‘had‘ has been used with the singular nouns, plural nouns, and pronouns. See the table below;

Person Singular Plural
First I had done. We had done.
Second You had done. You had done.
Third He/She/It had done. They had done.

Rule – 3 If the sentence describes two actions and the action that ended earlier is used in Past Perfect Tense and the action that ends later in the Simple Past Tense.

  • Johnny had caught the clever thief before the police had arrived.
  • Daniel stopped the car after he had missed the bus.

Note: In the above sentences, the first sentence has two parts. The first part of the sentence has been made in the past perfect tense and the second part has been made in the Simple Past Tense. The action of the first part (past perfect) has been completed first and the action of the second part (simple past) has finished later.

Examples of Past Perfect Tense

  1. The girls had written an application to the teacher before she attended the school.
  2. When George dialed my number, I had already come to him.
  3. Margie didn’t buy the book because she had already bought it.
  4. At first, she thought had closed the door but she soon realized that she had opened the door.
  5. When I reached the field, the game had started.
  6. The children had finished their work when the teacher came.
  7. As soon as we had completed our lessons, we went out to play tennis.
  8. David had already bought a new iPhone.
  9. The teacher told the students that they had passed the examination.
  10. I thought I had sent you some tickets.

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Simple Statements/Sentences of Past Perfect Tense

Simple Sentences past perfect tense are made according to the above rules. Here is a simple sentence structure you can follow to make the perfect tense sentences.

Sentence structure: Subject + Had + Verb III (Past Participle) + Object (Conjunction + Subject + Verb II + Object)

If there is a conjunction to talk about the action that happened later, add it to the sentence structure given above.


  1. Janet had lost the keys when her father asked her for them.
  2. They had left the office before the sunset.
  3. When the people got home, it had rained.
  4. He failed the examination because he hadn’t prepared it well.
  5. The man had helped me before the police arrived.
  6. I had already finished my homework.
  7. My friend had started his music class before he told me.
  8. The carpenter prepared a table before I had ordered him.
  9. He had already washed his clothes.
  10. We got ready for the party after Tom had come.
  11. Our family had already visited the largest zoo in our city.
  12. When my uncle took me to the school, the bell had rang.
  13. The gardener watered the plants after the guests had come.
  14. Jack’s younger brother had already been to Singapore.
  15. We had bought a new umbrella before January.

Negative Sentences

Negative Sentences of Past Perfect Tense are made according to the following rules and sentence structure is given below. Read them carefully.


  • Write ‘not’ after the auxiliary verb ‘had’ in the negative sentences.
  • You may use the contraction form of ‘had not’ – hadn’t.
  • Negative words like not, no, never, none, nothing, no one, nobody is used to making negative sentences.

Sentence Structure: Subject + Had not/hadn’t + Verb III (Past Participle) + object + other words


  1. I had not sent him an email before he did anything.
  2. They hadn’t seen it before 2 o’clock.
  3. We hadn’t heard from him before Sunday.
  4. I hadn’t got my passport before the trip.
  5. When the bell rang, the students hadn’t entered the classroom.
  6. The players had not scored two hundred before thirty-five overs.
  7. Sarah hadn’t met her friend when she visited Switzerland.
  8. The man hadn’t seen the car before he went across the road.
  9. She had never worn damaged jeans before.
  10. I hadn’t called him before the sunset.
  11. Our team hadn’t scored 150 runs before the five o’clock.
  12. We had not reached the the railway station before the train started.
  13. George had not cleaned his car before you left.
  14. The man did not receive this letter after you had contacted him.
  15. They had not heard this news before the manager told them.

Interrogative Sentences of Past Perfect Tense

Interrogative Sentences of Past Perfect Tense are formed using the auxiliary verb ‘had’ at the beginning of the sentences.   There are two types of interrogative sentences. Follow the instructions below;

Yes-No Type Interrogative Sentences

Rules: To make yes-no type questions (interrogative sentences), put the auxiliary verb ‘had’ before the subject of the sentences. Check the table below;

Person Singular Plural
First Had I gone? Had we gone?
Second Had you gone? Had you gone?
Third Had he/she/it gone? Had they gone?


  1. Had he come here before you went?
  2. Had the bank manager verified your cheque before the bank closed?
  3. Had they gone through the forest when it rained yesterday?
  4. Had you bought vegetables from the store when you went there?
  5. Did the teacher describe the past perfect tense after you had attended the class?
  6. Had father bought the tickets for us before the show?
  7. Had we gone shopping before grandfather came yesterday?
  8. Had the young boy already helped the old lady?
  9. Had he lived in Japan for two years before you met him?
  10. Had your teacher changed his job before you sent him an email?
  11. Had this woman sold her house before July?
  12. Had the boys completed their projects before the examination?
  13. Did the girls win this competition after they had prepared well?
  14. Had you got this chance before she met you?
  15. Had we known him before he met us?

Wh-word Type Questions

Wh-word Type Questions of past perfect tense start with the question word that is put at the beginning of the sentence follow the sentence structure;

Structure: Question word + had + verb III + object + other words + ?


  1. Where had he slept before they saw him?
  2. What did David ask you after he had completed his task?
  3. Who had advised you before you got this job?
  4. What had happened to you when she called him?
  5. How had he saved himself before the police caught the thief?
  6. What had they bought from the store when you arrived?
  7. When had you published a book before the people knew about it?
  8. What had he already done?
  9. What did I tell you after they had searched you?
  10. How many people had stopped him he hit a car?
  11. How far had he run before the people caught him?
  12. How had she swum across when he fall into the river?
  13. What had he already discussed?
  14. What had mother cooked by the time we reached?
  15. Whose son had gone abroad when we came to know it?

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Use of Past Perfect Tense

The past perfect tense is used to describe past actions. Let’s read how, when, and where use it.

(A) Past perfect continuous tense is used to talk about an action that was completed before another action took place in the past;


  1. The movie had started before we reached the cinema hall.
  2. The man drove the car fast after he had heard the news of his father.
  3. I had cooked the food before my parents came.
  4. She had decorated her house before Christmas.
  5. His younger brother jumped into the well before he reached.
  6. The players had won the match before the sunset.

(B) We use the past perfect tense to describe an action completed in the past with the words already, never, before, ever still, etc.


  1. I had already visited the hospital.
  2. She had never gone to Costa Rica before.
  3. Had he ever seen a beautiful palace before?
  4. He had never bought a red car before.
  5. They had already prepared coffee for the guests.

(C) Past Perfect Tense is used to describe an unfulfilled hope, wish, intention, etc.


  1. I had wished to become an engineer.
  2. She had hoped to succeed in the examination.
  3. They had wished to win the match.
  4. Our son had intended to live in New York.
  5. The constructor had hoped to get the project.

(D) Past Perfect Tense is used to express an unfulfilled condition in the past. It means that we use it in the third conditional sentence.


  1. If he had done his work properly, he would not have lost the job.
  2. If you had worked hard, you would have succeeded in the examination.
  3. If the player had run fast, he had won the race.
  4. If we had reached the station on time, we would not have missed the train.
  5. If she had not washed her clothes, she would have worn old clothes.

(E) Past Perfect Tense is used to express an action that happened before a specific time in the past.


  1. By 2020, we had lost two cars.
  2. I had made a cup of coffee by 2 o’clock.
  3. The teacher had taught me by afternoon.

Important Points to Remember

1. We use the Past Perfect Tense with the action completed longer while Simple Past Tense is used for the action (shorter action) that happened later.


  • I had read the simple past tense before you taught past perfect tense.
  • You had watched the movie before your brother arrived.

Note: In the above sentences, the red part of the sentences shows the longer action stated in the past perfect tense while the green part of the sentences shows the shorter action in the Simple Past Tense.

2. You should not use the perfect tense if you don’t have simple past actions to go back in the past.


  • She had completed his work (unnatural)
  • She had completed her work before she slept. (natural)

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Examples of Past Perfect Tense Sentences

  • The people had saved him from the fire before the fire brigade came.
  • When it rained there everyone had stopped.
  • I had invited him to the party before you asked me.
  • We had already discovered the truth.
  • She had already traveled by aeroplane.
  • She had never planned to stay here before.
  • As soon as the boys had prayed the match they went home.
  • When you arrived there, I had slept.
  • We didn’t see him after they had gone from the city.
  • My friend had already visited my home in New York.
  • She had never heard the news of his success.
  • I hadn’t lost my driving licence when the police officer asked to show it.
  • The company had already sent an SMS to me.
  • When I read the newspaper, I had read an interesting article.
Examples of Past Perfect Tense
Examples of Past Perfect Tense

Past Perfect Tense Video


Past perfect tense is called the past tense of the past. We use the past perfect tense to describe the past actions. When you use the past perfect tense, you should use it carefully with other tenses. Simple past tense is used with past perfect tense. You should read the above rules carefully before you use it. We have write the examples of past perfect tense with rules and sentences structures. You may also find a video after the post describing the past perfect tense.

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