Past Perfect Tense
Past perfect tense verbs are formed with the helping verb had
and the verb's past participle.
They show an action that came before another action in the past.
The team had won before I arrived.
My sister had just left when we walked in the door.
Although this verb tense shows an action that came before another action in the past, that other action does not have to be stated in the sentence.
It can simply be implied.
For instance, these sentences are still made with the past perfect verb tense although the past action is not stated like it is in the sentences above.
The team had won.
My sister had just left.
What Is a Perfect Tense?
Every verb has three perfect tenses.
The three perfect tenses
are formed with the helping verbs have, has, had, will
and the past participle of the verb.
1. Present Perfect Verbs
are formed with the helping verbs has
2. Past Perfect Verbs
are formed with the helping verb had
3. Future Perfect Verbs
are formed with the helping verbs will have
and shall have
You need to know what a past participle is because past perfect verbs are formed using a verb's past participle.
Are you ready to learn about past participles? Great!
Every verb has what are called four principal parts
We can take any verb and break it into these parts. Past participles are simply one of those parts of a verb.
Here is a chart showing you some examples of verbs broken into their principal parts.
If you'd like to learn more about past participles, click here
Forming the Past Perfect Tense
So, to form the past perfect verb tense, just slap a had
in front of the past participle of the verb.
||+ Past Participle
Go Back to the Verb Tenses Page
The Beginner's Guide to Grammar gives you a fun and visual way to get started with grammar and sentence diagramming. Yay!