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How do we make the Past Perfect Tense?

The structure of the Past Perfect tense is:

subject + auxiliary have + main verb
conjugated in Past Simple  
had past participle

The auxilary verb (have) is conjugated in the Past Simple: had

The main verb is invariable in past participle form: -ed (or irregular)

For negative sentences we insert not between the auxiliary verb and the main verb.

For question sentences, we exchange the subject and the 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?

Contraction with Past Perfect

When we use the Past Perfect in speaking, we often contract the subject and the auxiliary verb. We also sometimes do this in informal writing:

I had I'd
you had you'd
he had
she had
it had
we had we'd
they had they'd

In negative sentences, we may contract the auxiliary verb and "not":

The 'd contraction is also used for the auxiliary verb would. For example, we'd can mean:
  • We had, OR
  • 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.