Past Perfect Tense and It’s all rules with easy examples

You must have already studied in Step-18 regarding Formula and use of ‘had‘ in Past Perfect and Sentence Structure of Past Perfect Tense with examples. Now let’s study more about Past Perfect, especially Its all rules to use.

What is Past Perfect Tense?

Past Perfect Tense refers to an action completed prior to some past point of time specified or implied, formed. In short, an event happened in the past before another event in the past.

Affirmative / Negative / Interrogative / Negative and Interrogative Forms of Past Perfect Tense

AffirmativeNegativeInterrogativeInterrogative and Negative
Singular I/you/he/she/it/Ram had eaten chocolates. I/you/he/she/it/Ram had not eaten chocolates. Had I/you/he/she/it/Ram eaten chocolates? Had I/you/he/she/it/Ram not eaten chocolates?
PluralWe/you/they/boys had eaten chocolates. We/you/they/boys had not eaten chocolates. Had we/you/they/boys eaten chocolates? Had we/you/they/boys not eaten chocolates?
Affirmative / Negative / Interrogative / Negative and Interrogative Forms of Past Perfect Tense

Note: The Past Perfect Tense has the structure: Had + Verb in the Past Participle(V3). The Interrogative is formed by inverting the auxiliary “had” and the Subjects.  The negative is formed by adding ‘not‘ to the auxiliary.

Rules for Past Perfect Tense to use

Past Perfect Tense Rule-1

If two actions happened in the past, the action that happened earlier is put in the Past Perfect, and the later action is put in the Simple Past. Study the examples given below.

  1. When I arrived at the bus stop, the bus had left.
  2. After he had written the letter, he posted it.
  3. Before I reached the theater, the movie had started.

Explanation: In the first example, ‘the bus had left‘ is the earlier action, and ‘I arrived‘ is the later action. Likewise, in the second example, ‘he had written the letter’ is the earlier action, and “he posted it’ is the later action. Similarly ‘the movie had started‘ in the third example is the earlier action and ‘I reached the theater‘ is the later action.

Past Perfect Tense Rule-2

The conjunctions ‘till, until, before, after, when, once, now that, as soon as‘ are used to indicate two past events one of which happened earlier, the other happened later. In this case, the earlier action takes Past Perfect Tense and the Later action takes Past Tense. Study the examples.

  1. When the guests had left the home, father came.
  2. Before I had known her for a week, she asked for help.
  3. The concert had started before we entered the hall.
  4. Radhika refused to go till/until she had seen his mother.

Past Perfect Tense Rule-3

If the sequence of events is clear without using different tenses. The Simple Past Tense may be used to indicate two events happening in sequence without many intervals. Study the examples.

  1. My mother opened the window before we got into the hall.
  2. When the chief guest entered the hall, the orchestra played the National Anthem.
  3. After I washed my hand, I sat down to eat.


Sometimes the Simple Past Tense can be used for both two past events

  1. When we arrived Geeta made tea for us. (Action took place quickly one after one)
  2. When we arrived Geeta was making tea for us. ( One action i.e making tea had already started and that action was still in progress when we arrived)
  3. When we arrived Geeta had made tea for us. ( Geeta had already made tea for us before we arrived)

Past Perfect Tense Rule-4

The Past Perfect is used with such verbs as ‘hope, expect, think, intend, mean, suppose and want that a past hope, desire, or expectation wasn’t fulfilled. Study the examples.

  1. He had hoped that he would come first in class this year.
  2. I had supposed that my friends would visit me.
  3. I had intended to help my friends.

Past Perfect Tense Rule-5

In if sentences: The Simple Past expressing real sense changes into the Past Perfect in the if sentences expressing unreal sense. The main clause change into would/could/should +have + verb (V3) in the Past Participle. The negative sentence changes into the affirmative sentence and vice versa. You will learn more about it later while studying conditional sentences or if sentences. See the examples.

  1. If Srikanth had studied hard, he would have gotten more marks.
  2. If they had bought that plot of land, they would have been put into trouble.

Here the incidents didn’t really happen. The time reference is past. In real sense the two examples mean.

  1. Srikanth didn’t study hard, so he didn’t get more marks.
  2. They didn’t buy that plot of land. So they were not put into trouble.

Past Perfect Exercise-01

Complete the sentences using the Past Perfect tense  with the other words and expressions given in brackets. One examples has been solved for you.

  1. We got up at 2 a.m. Answer: We saw that ___________(some people /enter/our garden)
  2. We came to the meeting late. Answer: The meeting___________(already/start)
  3. The place was lonely as everybody. Answer:___________(leave/the place).
  4. We arrived the airport late. Answer: Before we reached there___________(the plane/take off)
  5. They finished the work. Then they went home. Answer: They went home after___________(finish/the work)
  6. A bearded old beggar ca to our door. Answer: I had never seen him before. (see/never/before)
  7. Last week Gopal didn’t come to college because. Answer: He ___________ (be/sick)
  8. We called the police because. Answer: the burglars ___________(break into our house)
  9. We were not hungry at 2 p.m as. Answer: we___________(have/some snacks/at
  10. I was late. Answer: My vehicle ___________(break down) ­

“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning”

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