In the English language, we use a specific verb tense to indicate that an action happened in the past—either before something else or at a particular time. We call this conjugation the “past perfect” or “pluperfect” tense, and any verb can be written this way. The tense helps orient the reader to multiple actions that occured at different points in the past.
Let’s look at a few examples:
- To walk
- To blink
- To wish
Now, if you wanted to write the above verbs in the past perfect tense, you would simply add the word “had” to the simple past tense form of the verb.
- had + walked
- had + blinked
- had + wished
I had walked home from school the day before the sidewalk collapsed.
In the example above, you know that you need to use the past perfect tense because one action took place prior to another event in the past. The walk happened before the collapse, but both of these events took place in the past.
They had blinked simultaneously.
Here, you use the pluperfect to show that the action took place at a specific time.
He had just wished on the shooting star when she came outside.
Again, the past perfect clarifies that he made the wish at a time in the past before she came outside (also in the past). The adverb “just” appears in the middle of the past perfect phrase “had wished.”