Past Perfect Tense (had + p.p.)


The past perfect tense expresses one past time before another past time. A common use of the past perfect tense is to indicate time that precedes a particular point in a past narrative.


A.       The past perfect tense often occurs in sentences containing dependent clauses. The verb in the main clause is usually in the past tense, and the verb of the dependent clause is in the past perfect tense. For example:


M      The teacher had finished calling the roll when Jack walked in.



1. Past perfect tense can¡¦t be used as a simple sentence. For example:


a. He had eaten his breakfast. ¡Ñ

b. He had told me the story. ¡Ñ

2. In the sentence which involved the conjunction ¡§after¡¨ and ¡§before¡¨, the time sequence has been indicated, so we can use ¡§had + p.p.¡¨ or ¡§the simple past tense¡¨ to express the sentence. For example:

c. After he (had) left the classroom, the teacher came in.

d. We (had) started on a journey before it began to rain.

3. When express the historical truth, we don¡¦t need to use ¡§had + p.p.¡¨ to express the event happened earlier in the past time. For example:

e. Our teacher told us that Columbus discovered ( not had discovered) America in 1492. 



B.        Past perfect tense used in indicating the event that had been completed at a point in the past time, or indicating an event that continued until one point in the past time. For example:

1. All his friends had gone to bed by 11 o¡¦clock last night.

2. Peter, who had waited since ten o¡¦clock, was angry with his sister when she finally came.


C. Past perfect tense used in ¡§reported speech¡¨ indicates the event happened in earlier past. For example:

1. He told me that he had met her three days before.

2. She wondered who had left the door open.


D. Past perfect tense can be used in expressing the plan hadn¡¦t been fulfilled in the past, intending, or hope. Generally used with such verbs like¡Xplanned, hoped, meant, intended, expected, wished, etc. for example:

1. I had meant to call on you last night but it rained.

2. Jenny had planned to go abroad but her mother fell ill suddenly.

The other way to write the sentences above: (general use)

a. I meant to have called on you last night but it rained.

b. Jenny planned to have gone abroad but her mother fell ill suddenly.



E.    The past perfect form usn"">  mood cannbsp; 

1. If he had known the secret, he would have told us.

2. He talked as if (= as though) he had met a ghost.

Future Perfect Tense