Past Perfect Tense Formula, Rules, and Examples

Past Perfect Tense Formula and Examples

Language is a dynamic and ever-evolving entity, reflecting the way people communicate and express themselves. Understanding the nuances of grammar and tenses is essential for effective communication, whether in spoken or written form. One such tense that adds depth and clarity to our communication is the Past Perfect Tense. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the formula and provide numerous examples to help you master the Past Perfect Tense.

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What is the past perfect tense?

The Past Perfect Tense, also known as the pluperfect tense, is used when we want to make it clear that one past action happened before another past action. It is formed by combining the past participle of a verb with the auxiliary verb “had.” The structure of the Past Perfect Tense is as follows:

Affirmative sentence formula

Subject + had + helping verb + object.

Negative sentence formula

Subject + had + not + helping verb + object.

Interrogative sentence formula

Had + subject + helping verb + object?

Past Perfect Affirmative Sentence Formation

  • First of all, translate the subject and put ‘had’ as a helping verb.
  • Then use 3rd form of the verb.
  • Lastly, translate the object and put a full stop (.) at the end.


Subject + auxiliary verb

had +

3rd form of

verb +

I had lost the pen
It had lost the pen
You had lost the pen
She had lost the pen
Children had lost the pen
We had lost the pen
They had lost the pen
He had lost the pen

Past Perfect Affirmative Tense Examples:

  • He had shut the door.
  • He had watched the TV.
  • He had divorced his wife.
  • They had repaired the table.
  • They had lost the match.
  • They had done their duty.
  • They had helped him
  • We had invited him.

Past perfect tense

Past Perfect Negative Sentence Formation

  • Translate the subject.
  • Put the helping verb with ‘not’ before the 3rd form of the verb.


Subject + auxiliary verb

had + not +

3rd verb form + object
I had not lost the pen
It had not lost the pen
You had not lost the pen
She had not lost the pen
Children had not lost the pen
We had not lost the pen
They had not lost the pen
He had not lost the pen

Past Perfect Negative Examples

  • He had not sprinkled the water.
  • They had not disturbed the people.
  • He had not controlled the fire.
  • They had not written a letter.

past perfect tense sentence structure

Past Perfect Interrogative Form

  • Translate the subject.
  • Then put the helping verb had before the subject at the start of a sentence.
  • Use 3rd form of verb.


Auxiliary verb


Subject 3rd form of verb object
Had i lost the pen
Had it lost the pen
Had you lost the pen
Had she lost the pen
Had children lost the pen
Had we lost the pen
Had they lost the pen
Had he lost the pen

Past Perfect Interrogative Sentences

  • Had they milked the cow?
  • Had they bought the cow?
  • Had he dismissed him?
  • Had they arrested him?

Past Perfect Tense Examples

The past perfect tense is used to describe actions that were completed before another action in the past. Here are some examples:

She had written three books by the age of thirty.

  • The writing of the books was completed before she turned thirty.

After he had done his chores, he went out to play.

  • Here, doing the chores was completed before going out to play.

I hadn’t seen him for years, but we still recognized each other.

  • The period of not seeing each other was completed before the moment of recognition.

He had never experienced such cold weather before he moved to Canada.

  • The experience of such cold weather hadn’t occurred until after moving to Canada.

She realized she had left her purse at home.

  • This suggests that the action of leaving the purse at home occurred before she realized it.

Before the new law was passed, they had never paid that tax.

  • Paying that tax had not occurred before the law was passed.

I had finished my homework before I started watching TV.

  • Here, finishing the homework occurred before starting to watch TV.

He had studied French before he decided to learn Spanish.

  • The study of French was completed before he started learning Spanish.

She realized that she had forgotten to lock the door.

  • The action of forgetting to lock the door occurred before she realized it.

After the guests had left, we cleaned up the house.

  • The guests leaving was completed before the house cleaning began.

By the time the police arrived, the thief had escaped.

  • The thief escaping happened before the police arrived.

The garden was beautiful because she had spent weeks planting flowers.

  • The planting of flowers was completed, leading to the garden’s beauty.

They had been married for 25 years when they decided to travel the world.

  • Their being married for 25 years was complete before the decision to travel.

I had never seen such a beautiful sunset before I went to Hawaii.

  • The act of seeing a sunset of that beauty had not occurred until the person went to Hawaii.

Before she received the promotion, she had worked in the company for five years.

  • Her working in the company for five years was a completed action before she got the promotion.

We hadn’t thought it would rain, but we were wrong.

  • The thinking it wouldn’t rain occurred before the realization of being wrong.

She had always wanted to be a doctor, even as a child.

  • Wanting to be a doctor was an ongoing state before the present.

The city had changed a lot since I last visited.

  • The changing of the city happened before the most recent visit.

We had lived in the same neighborhood, but never met each other.

  • Living in the same neighborhood was a completed action before meeting each other.

By the time we got to the station, the train had already left.

  • The train leaving occurred before they arrived at the station.

They had often talked about going to Japan before they finally booked their flights.

  • Talking about going to Japan was a repeated action that happened before booking the flights.

I was tired because I had been jogging for an hour.

  • The jogging for an hour was completed before feeling tired.

Had you ever visited the museum before it closed?

  • This is a question form, asking if the visiting of the museum happened before it closed.

We had waited for hours, but the concert was canceled.

  • The action of waiting for hours was completed before the concert was canceled.

They had lived in Paris for ten years before moving to London.

  • This indicates that their living in Paris was an action that happened and was completed over a duration, ending before they moved to London.

Had you finished the report before the meeting started?

  • Asking if the finishing of the report occurred before the meeting started.

They had completed the project, but it still needed some revisions.

  • Completing the project was done before realizing it needed revisions.

We had been friends for years before we became business partners.

  • The friendship existed and was established before they became business partners.

Before the invention of the smartphone, many people had never accessed the internet on the go.

  • Accessing the internet on the go hadn’t happened for many until after the smartphone’s invention.

By the time she arrived, we had already eaten dinner.

  • This means that the action of eating dinner was completed before she arrived.

Must Try:

Past Perfect Continuous Tense in English
The Usage of Tenses in English Grammar
Rules of Active and Passive Voice


past perfect tense

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