English Tense: Past Perfect
(Subject + had + III form of the Verb ……)
Past Perfect Tense is in reality, the past of the past. It is used when we say that an action was completed before another action took place. Both the actions are related to each other in some way. The action already completed is expressed by Past Perfect Tense. The action which takes place later is expressed by Simple Past or Past Indefinite Tense as:
The train had left before I reached the station.
In order to form the Past Perfect Tense we use ‘had’ before the Past Participle (III) form of the Verb.
(i) In Interrogative form [‘Had’ is used before the subject]
(Had + Subject + not + III form of the Verb + …… ?)
Had he left when you came?
Had the doctor arrived before the patient died?
(ii) In Negative form [‘not’ is used after ‘had’]
(Subject + had + not + III form of the Verb + ……)
I had not seen you before.
The doctor had not reached before the patient breathed his last.
Uses of the Past Perfect Tense
(a) The Past Perfect Tense is used to express an action completed before another action took place:
When he came to me, I had posted the letter.
The match had begun before I reached the playground.
The rain had stopped, when we entered the cinema hall.
(b) In a Simple Sentence we never use the Past Perfect Tense unless it has in it some such words ; as—still, before, never, already, till, since etc.,
The Mother had already cooked the food.
She had never seen such a terrible sight before.
She had not travelled by a train till then.
I had not written to her since I went abroad.
(c) (i) It is also used to express an unfulfilled action in the past:
If she had worked hard she would have passed.
If you had come in time we would have taken you with us.
(ii) It is also used to express an unfulfilled wish in the past:
I wish I had won the election.
I wish I had accepted the job.
I wish I had appeared at the test.
(d) To denote the action or event which has been completed before some point of time.
By afternoon he had completed much work.
At 9 P.M. all the members had come.
By sunset, we had watered the plants.
We can express time by using some ‘time-denoting’. Adverbs or through Adverbial clauses of Time. The combination of two past actions depends upon their mutual relevance.
I had waited for my friend until he arrived.
After he had sailed many days the mariner reached the coast.
She had not been well since she returned from Lahore.
I had taken a bath when the telephone rang.