Lesson 20 - Past Perfect Tense

Meeting Room

In this lesson you'll learn how to use the past perfect tense. Plenty of examples are given to show you how to use the past perfect tense. You'll also learn the past participles of more common English verbs.

A conversation is also included between two friends, who talk about the first day on a job.




Mark has just finished the first day at his new job. His friend Eric works a few blocks away, and they've met up at local café.

Eric: How was the first day at your new job?

Mark: Well, I had just arrived at the office, when I realized I had left my wallet at home. I went back home to get it, and by the time I was back at the office, I was 20 minutes late.

Eric: Oh no! Did it cause a problem?

Mark: No, but wasn't a good way to start my first day.

Eric: What happened next?

Mark: I introduced myself to the receptionist, then after a few minutes Susan arrived. She is one of the people who sat in on the interview. She took me around and introduced me to the people I'll be working with.

Eric: Had you met any of the people that you'll be working with before?

Mark: Yes. I had met Mike already at a friend's wedding, but I don't know him very well.

Eric: Did they put you to work right away?

Mark: No. Susan brought me to my desk and gave me a lot of documents to read.

Eric: I remember when I first started my job last year. I was very nervous, but it felt like starting on a new adventure as well.

Vocabulary and Phrases

I had just arrived at the office
I had left my wallet
Did it cause a problem?
a friend's wedding
Did they put you to work right away?


More Past Participles

Like the present perfect tense, the past perfect tense also uses past participles. The following table shows the past tense and past participle of some more common verbs.

Verb Past Tense Past Participle
be was been
begin began begun
believe believed believed
break broke broken
choose chose chosen
close closed closed
come came come
do did done
drink drank drunk
eat ate eaten
enjoy enjoyed enjoyed
fall fell fallen
feel felt felt
find found found
fly flew flown
forget forgot forgotten
give gave given
go went gone
happen happened happened
have had had
know knew known
learn learned learned
let let let
like liked liked
live lived lived
need needed needed
open opened opened
run ran run
say said said
see saw seen
sit sat sat
sleep slept slept
speak spoke spoken
stand stood stood
take took taken
talk talked talked
teach taught taught
tell told told
think thought thought
touch touched touched
turn turned turned
walk walked walked
want wanted wanted
wish wished wished
write wrote written

Past Perfect Tense

The past perfect tense is used to indicate that an event happened before another event, or before a specific date in the past.

The past perfect tense is formed using the past participle of a verb along with the simple past tense of the verb have. The following table shows the past perfect tense of the verb walk.

Past Perfect Tense
I had walked
you had walked
he had walked
she had walked
it had walked
we had walked
they had walked


I had already left when you arrived.
I planned to wash the dishes, but somebody had already washed them.
She had already learned French before she started to learn Spanish.
We had come home before it started to rain.
They had studied for the exam before writing it.
Had he locked the door when he left work?
He had forgotten to lock the door when he left for work.
He had not locked the door before he left for work.
Had the car needed a new engine when you bought it?
Had you read the books before you gave them to me?
She had just gotten home when they arrived.
I wanted to watch the movie, but they had already seen it.
It hadn't happened until last week.


Here are some flashcards to help you learn the past perfect tense. For each flashcard change the verb in the past tense to the past perfect tense.


In the quiz for this lesson, you'll practice using the past perfect tense. Make sure you know the past participles included in this lesson. You can take the quiz as many times as you like. Your highest score will be saved.

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