Past perfect – English grammar courses

The past perfect tense is often used in English when we are relating two events which happened in the past. It helps to show which event happened first. It is formed with the auxiliary verb have in the past had, followed by the participle of the main verb.


Let’s take a look at some examples:


First person Notes
I had finished my homework when mom came back. Take note that the exact order of the sentence is not important. For example: When mom came back, I had finished my homework.
He had went to the USA before Mexico.
I had studied English before I traveled to the UK.
She had left the house when we arrived.
They had been eating by the time I came.


To ask questions in past perfect tense, you will need to use the following formula: Interrogative + subject + past participle. For example: Had she arrived?


You can ask questions with the present perfect tense by using “had” for all the pronouns. For example: Had he known? Had they talked?


You can add “not” after “had”. For example: Had he not walked here? Had they not attended the meeting?


You can abbreviate “had not” to “hadn’t”.


Let’s do some exercises with what we have learned already. Place the appropriate past perfect word in the gaps: ring, cook, be, wash, write, make, be, play, travel, work, enjoy, study.


  1. I ________ Japanese in university.
  2. Denny _________ the car by 7 pm.
  3. I checked my phone and saw that it ________ 2 hours ago.
  4. He ________ a beautiful meal.
  5. She _________ a writer since 2015.
  6. They ___________ to Thailand before.
  7. He ____________ a very long book.
  8. My friend ____________ excellent at sports.
  9. Johnny _____________ the entire plan for the trip.
  10. I _____________ the park during the summer but in winter, it was too cold.
  11. I _____________ basketball on my school team.
  12. Me and my friends __________ together on a project once before.