English Daily Workout: Past Perfect

Past Perfect



 
3. The past perfect
         a. Use
         b. Formation
         c. Questions and negative statements 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3. The past perfect

a. Use
The Past Perfect tense is used to refer to a non-continuous action in the past, which was already completed by the time another action in the past took place. In the following examples, the verbs in the Past Perfect tense are underlined.
e.g. She had heard the news before I saw her.
      I had finished my work by the time the clock struck twelve.

In the preceding examples, the verbs had heard and had finished are in the Past Perfect tense, and the verbs saw and struck are in the Simple Past. The use of the Past Perfect tense indicates that the actions of hearing the news and finishing the work were already completed by the time the actions expressed by the verbs in the Simple Past took place.

b. Formation
The Past Perfect tense is formed from the Simple Past of the auxiliary to have, followed by the past participle of the verb.

The Simple Past of to have is had. In spoken English, the auxiliary had is often contracted to 'd. For example, the Past Perfect of the verb to work is conjugated as follows:

Without ContractionsWith Contractions
 
  I had worked                                                            I'd worked
  you had worked  you'd worked
  he had worked  he'd worked
  she had worked  she'd worked
  it had worked  it'd worked
  we had worked  we'd worked
  they had worked  they'd worked

The contraction it'd is less frequently used than the other contractions, since it is more difficult to pronounce.



c. Questions and negative statements
As is the case with other English tenses, questions and negative statements in the Past Perfect tense are formed using the auxiliary.

Questions are formed by placing the auxiliary before the subject. For example:

    Affirmative StatementQuestion
  I had worke                                              Had I worked?
  They had worked.Had they worked?

Negative statements are formed by placing the word not after the auxiliary. For example:

Affirmative Statement                               Negative Statement
  I had worked.                                 I had not worked.
  They had worked.                              They had not worked.

In spoken English, the following contraction is often used:

Without Contraction                 With Contraction
  had not                      hadn't

Negative questions are formed by placing the auxiliary before the subject, and the word not after the subject. However, when contractions are used, the contracted form of not follows immediately after the auxiliary. For example:

Without Contraction                                   With Contraction
  Had I not worked?  Hadn't I worked?
  Had they not worked?  Hadn't they worked?

Tag questions are formed using the auxiliary. In the following examples, the negative tag questions are underlined. Contractions are usually used in negative tag questions.

Affirmative Statement  Affirmative Statement with Tag Question
  I had worked.                                       I had worked, hadn't I?
  They had worked.  They had worked, hadn't they?