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Past Perfect Tense Definition and Examples

The past perfect tense expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past. It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past.
Unlike with the Present Perfect, it is possible to use specific time words or phrases with the past perfect tense. Although this is possible, it is usually not necessary.

Past Perfect Tense Definition and Examples
Past Perfect Tense Definition and Examples

Structure Of Sentence

Positive: (Subject + had + 3rd form of verb + Object)

  • He had taken the exam last year.

Negative: (Subject + had + not + 3rd from of verb + Object)

  • He had not taken the exam last year.

Interrogative: (Had+ Subject + 3rd from of verb + Object + ?)

  • Had he taken the exam last year?
  • I had never seen such a beautiful beach before I went to Karachi.
  • We were not able to get a hotel room because we had not booked in advance.

More uses of Past perfect tense

Duration Before Something in the Past (Non-Continuous Verbs)
With Non-Continuous Verbs and some non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, we use the Past Perfect tense to show that something started in the past and continued up until another action in the past.

  • We had had that car for ten years before it broke down.
  • By the time Ali finished his studies, he had been in London for over eight years.

Moreover
If the Past Perfect action did occur at a specific time, the Simple Past can be used instead of the Past Perfect when “before” or “after” is used in the sentence, but if the Past Perfect is not referring to an action at a specific time, Past Perfect is not optional.

  • She had visited her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she moved in with them in 1996.
  • She visited her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she moved in with them in 1996.
  • She never saw a bear before she moved to Alaska. Not Correct
  • She had never seen a bear before she moved to Alaska. Correct

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