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How do we make the Past Perfect Tense?

The structure of the past perfect tense is:

subject + auxiliary verb HAVE + main verb
conjugated in simple past tense past participle
had V3

For negative sentences in the past perfect tense, we insert not between the auxiliary verb and main verb. For question sentences, we exchange the subject and auxiliary verb. Look at these example sentences with the past perfect tense:

  subject auxiliary verb main verb  
+ I had   finished my work.
+ You had   stopped before me.
- She had not gone to school.
- We had not left.  
? Had you   arrived?  
? Had they   eaten dinner?

When speaking with the past perfect tense, we often contract the subject and auxiliary verb:

I had I'd
you had you'd
he had
she had
it had
we had we'd
they had they'd
The 'd contraction is also used for the auxiliary verb would. For example, we'd can mean:
  • We had
  • We would
But usually the main verb is in a different form, for example:
  • We had arrived (past participle)
  • We would arrive (base)
It is always clear from the context.

How do we use the past perfect tense? »

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