Teaching and Learning Since 2002

The Past Perfect

Let's say we have a past sentence that looks like this:

Mom got home and Dad cooked dinner.

We can use the past perfect to show that an event happened first. The auxiliary had is used to show what happened first.

Mom got home and Dad had cooked dinner.

As you can see in the above sentence, Dad cooked dinner first, then Mom got home. Whatever happened second use the simple past tense.

There are time words and phrases we can use with the past perfect. They are:

after, already, as soon as, before, by the time, when, yet.

We can use the time words and phrases above to help make it more clear what had happened first in a past perfect sentence. To repeat the most recent example:

Mom got home after Dad had cooked dinner.

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©opyright 2017 by Richard Knopf
Updated April 8, 2015