English Grammar

How to use the Past Perfect

We can use the Past Perfect to refer to an action that happened before another Past Simple action. For example: “When I arrived at the cinema, the film had already started.”
8:30pm: The film started.
9pm: I arrived at the cinema. “The film had already started when I arrived at the cinema:’

We form the Past Perfect with had + a past participle.

We can use question words (who, what, when, where, why, etc.) with the Past Perfect. For example:
a) Where had you put it?
b) What had they done?

The abbreviated forms are: I’d, you’d, he’d, she’d, it’d we’d, they’d.


  • You had seen it before. (Affirmative)
  • He hadn’t seen it before. (Negative)
  • Had it seen it before? (Interrogative)

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