Past Perfect Verb Tense
When is the past perfect tense used?
The past perfect tense is used:
- to state "how many"
- to clarify the order of two past non-continuous events
- to state a past action was completed before an other action
- interchangeably with the past perfect continuous verb tense
- with the exact time or an unexpected time can be stated (unlike when using the simple present prefect verb tense)
The past perfect tense is used to to clarify the order of two past actions.
The first action uses the simple past perfect tense
The second action uses that past simple verb tense.
- I wasn't hungry when I came home from school. I had eaten on my way home from school.
- We had already left for school, when I found out that the my English class was canceled.
The past perfect tense be used to state an action that occurred in the past was completed, before a 2nd action in the past started.
- I was very tired when my friends came to pick me up. I had worked all day.
- We slept only a few hours, when we had to wake up to go to school.
The past perfect tense can be used to answer the question "how many".
- I had lived in in Europe, so many years ago.
- We had visited so many different places, before we came home.
There are many cases where the past perfect continuous verb tense can be interchangeable with the simple past perfect tense.
- I had slept all night. - past perfect simple tense
- I had been sleeping all night. - past perfect continuous verb tense
- I have lived in this house many years. - past perfect simple tense
- I have been living in this house for many years. - past perfect continuous verb tense