Past Perfect Sentences: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know what the past perfect tense is? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on past perfect tenses, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What is the past perfect tense?

Today we will explore the past perfect tense. There are many perfect tenses, including the present and future perfect tenses. According to Your Dictionary, the use of past perfect tense is used to show that something happened before another action in the past. It can also be used to show that something happened before a specific time in the past. These can also be used as question sentences if we add a question mark and wh-word, and to form positive and negative sentences. This tense uses the past tense of the verb “to have,” which is had as an auxiliary verb, added to the past participle of the main verb. 

What are examples of the past perfect tense?

Past perfect tense can be used in many different contexts in the English language. Trying to use a word or literary technique in a sentence is one of the best ways to memorize what it is, but you can also try making flashcards or quizzes that test your knowledge. Try using this term of the day in a sentence today! Below are many easy examples of past tenses from Learn Grammar and Ginger that can help get you started incorporating this tool into your everyday use.  See if you can understand the first sentence and second sentence.

  •  After Sofie had finished her work, she went to lunch.
  •  I wished I had told the truth.
  •  I had not eaten at that restaurant before today.
  •  Had you cleaned up the mess by the time they came home?
  •  Had Adam ever spoken to the CEO before he was fired?
  •  They lost many of the games because they had not practiced enough.
  •  They had gotten engaged before last year.
  •  The teacher asked if we had studied for the exam.
  •  The police had entered the stadium when the alarm sounded.
  •  The usher asked if we had purchased our tickets.
  •  If we had called ahead, we would not have needed to wait so long for a table.
  •  It’d happened so quickly, I didn’t notice.
  •  What had they said that made him so angry?
  •  She had established her company before 2008.
  •  My colleague Tim had met the German woman in the airport last month when he was off on assignment.
  •  George had lost his wallet in New York during the confusion yesterday.
  •  Why had he agreed to work for that salary?
  •  We wished we had purchased the winning ticket.
  •  My neighbor asked if we had seen her dog.
  •  Everyone had gone home by the time Doris had got to the party.
  •  You had studied Italian before you moved to Rome.
  •  I had just gone outside when it started to rain
  •  He had never played football until last week.
  •  We’d just gotten home, when we heard the blast outside.
  •  After I’d used the phone, I paid the bill.
  •  The boss had said it would be a long meeting.
  •  I had had enough of his complaining.
  •  How much had he drunk before you got to him?
  •  The boy wished he had asked another question.
  •  I didn’t say anything until the thief had finished talking.
  •  The cat had chased the bird before it flew out of the yard.
  •  I had never seen such a beautiful sunset before I went to the island.
  •  We had just called home when my mom texted us about returning the car.
  •  I did not have any cash because I had lost my purse.
  •  She stayed up all night because she had received bad news.
  •  My friends hadn’t ever gone to France.
  •  She had never been to the symphony before last night.
  •  After she had moved out, I found her notes.
  •  She had visited several doctors before she found out what the problem was with her hand.
  •  By the time he phoned her, she had found someone new.
  •  Before he did his homework, he had stayed after school for help.
  •  He had just put the dog on the leash when we got there.
  •  Anthony had met Ryan before you introduced him to us at the party.
  •  If I had seen him, I would have told him the news.
  •  The bus had just left when we got to the stop.
  •  She had met him before the party.
  •  They had never eaten a proper Indian meal, had they?
  •  By the time Doris got to the party, everyone had gone home.
  •  My friends had never gone to the USA either.
  •  Jennifer hadn’t spoken to you about it, had she?
  •  I washed the floor when the painter had gone.
  •  They had been in business together, hadn’t they?
  •  She had just left the scene when the ambulance arrived.
  •  Samantha hadn’t had time to explain her side of the story.
  •  Marc knew Philadelphia so well because he had lived there for five years.
  •  Before I knew it, she had run out the door.
  •  He understood the math test because he had been tutored all week.
  •  We were not able to stay overnight at the hotel since we had not reserved a room in advance.
  •  I had been to Mexico once before.
  •  She wished she had seen her friend.
  •  Harold had known about it for a while.
  •  I had fallen asleep before eight o’clock.
  •  She had lived in California before moving to Texas.
  •  John had known about the cancer for a couple of years, hadn’t he?

Overall, past perfect verbs combines the past tense form and the perfect form. Like how the present perfect tense expresses via present perfect verbs, the past perfect continuous tense uses the past participle form of the main verb. This past perfect action is what makes past perfect tense verbs, and past participles end in ed usually. 


  1. Glossary of grammatical terms | OED 
  2. The Past Perfect Simple Tense | Examples & Exercises | Ginger 
  3. Past Perfect Tense | Your Dictionary
  4. Examples of Past Perfect Tense | Learn English | Learn Grammar