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The Past Perfect Tense

We use the past perfect to show the order of two past events. We can say that the past perfect is the past in the past. We usually use the past perfect to make it clear which action happened first. The past perfect shows the earlier action and the past simple shows the later action.

To form the past perfect tense you use the past tense of the verb "to have," which is had, and add it to the past participle of the main verb. In the past perfect, questions are formed by changing the word order and we use never for negative experiences.

For example: After she had finished her homework, she went to bed. When I got to the car park, I realised that I had forgotten my keys.

I washed the floor after the painter had gone.

After she had moved out, I found her shoes.

I had never seen such a beautiful sunset before I went to the beach

Had she eaten when you arrived?

Let's practice!

Complete the following sentences using the correct form of the verb in brackets, fill in the missing words, and answer the questions as they are true for you.

  1. I ____n't read the book before I watched it on TV.

  2. _____ they arrived home before it rained?

  3. Had you _____ (do) your homework before the class started?

  4. How much had she ______ (study) before she wrote the test?

  5. The meeting had ______ (start) by the time I arrived.

  6. I didn't say anything until she ____ _____ (finish) speaking.

  7. I had already ______ (eat) when they arrived.

  8. She ____ not had a day off work in months when her boss told her that she could have the weekend off.

  9. They had (leave) the bank before it was robbed.

  10. The train _____ already left when I arrived at the station.

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