Grammar for Beginners – Past perfect review

Do you remember how to use the past perfect? If you’re not sure, don’t worry! Keep reading for a quick review with lots of examples.

Sometimes, when we talk about the past, we want to refer to something that happened before a certain time in the past and so we use the past perfect. Confused? Don’t be!

How to use the past perfect tense

By looking at the following two sentences, we can see that they are finished actions from the past, and that’s why they are in the past simple tense.

“John went out yesterday morning at 8 am”

“Kevin went to visit John at 8.20 am”

However, if we wanted to combine the two sentences to make both actions clear, we could use the past perfect:

“Kevin went to visit John at 8:20 am but John had already gone out”

Remember the Past Perfect form is had+past participle. Now, let’s look at some more examples:

“By the time Dad arrived, I had eaten dinner already”

“I knew I had met her before when I saw her face!”

“She invited me to the cinema, but I had already seen the movie”

Past perfect in reported speech

We can also use the past perfect in reported speech when we are relaying something someone has said.

For example:

“Jamie said that she had never been to New York”

“Alex said that he had left his keys at work, but went back to get them”

Past perfect in conditional sentences

And finally the past perfect is also used in conditional sentences, such as:

“If I had taken more time to study I might have passed”

“You would have had more money if you had saved!”

Did you enjoy this lesson? TWEET IT OUT: I just reviewed the past perfect with @abaenglish #englishgrammar

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