The past perfect tense

Posted by Manjusha Filed in English Grammar



I had written.
She had written.
You had written.


I had not written.
She had not written.
You had not written.


Had I written?
Had she written?
Had you written?

Uses of the past perfect tense

to refer to the 'earlier past'

The past perfect tense denotes an action completed at some point in the past before some other past action commenced. When two actions in the past have to be referred to, the past perfect is used for the earlier action and the simple past for the later one.

Note that we can use time conjunctions (e.g. after, before, as soon as) to talk about two actions or events that happen one after the other. Usually the past perfect is not necessary in these cases, though it can be used.

to talk about unrealized hopes and wishes

The past perfect can be used to talk about an unrealized hope, wish etc.

to talk about past events that did not happen

After if, wish and would rather, the past perfect can be used to talk about past events that did not happen.

See also

The simple present tense
The present progressive tense
The present perfect tense
The present perfect progressive tense
Present tenses to talk about the future
The simple past tense
The past progressive tense
The past perfect tense
The past perfect progressive tense
Past verb forms with present or future meaning
The simple future tense
The future progressive tense
The future perfect tense