ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 1 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense

Janice had gone home by the time Jerry arrived at the party.
By the time Jerry arrived at the party, Janice had gone home.

Oscar had read all of his e-mail before he went to work.
Before Oscar went to work, he had read all of his e-mail.

We went to the movies after we had eaten our dinner.
After we had eaten our dinner, we went to the movies.

The bus had already left when Sara reached the bus stop.
When Sara reached the bus stop, the bus had already left.

Joe knew Munich well because he had visited that beautiful
city many times.
Because he had visited that beautiful city many times, Joe
knew Munich well.
Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole

ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 2 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense

Form of the Past Perfect Tense
Affirmative Statements
Subject

+

had

+

past participle

Janice

had

gone

home by the time Jerry arrived at the party.

Oscar

had

read

all of his e-mail before he went to work.

We

had

eaten

lunch early. We were not hungry at 1:00.

I

had

bought

my ticket 2 hours before the fashion show began.

We had eaten our lunch early. We were not hungry at 1:00.

I had bought my ticket 2 hours before the fashion show began.

Subject
She

+

had
had

+

adverb
already

+

past participle
read

the book that she donated to charity.

Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole

ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 3 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense

Negative Statements
Subject

+

had

+

not

+

past participle

Janice

had

not

gone

home by the time Jerry arrived at the party.

Oscar

had

not

read

all of his e-mail before he went to work.

We

had

not

eaten

lunch early. We were hungry at 1:00.

I

had

not

bought

my tickets 2 hours before the fashion show began.

Subject

+

had

She

+

not

had

+

not

adverb

+

past participle

yet

read

the book that she donated to charity.

Yes/No Questions
Had

+

Had

subject

+

past participle

Janice

gone

home by the time Jerry arrived at the party?

Short Answers
Yes,

+

Yes,

subject

+

she

had

No,

had.

No,

+

subject
she

+

hadn’t
hadn’t.

WH- Questions
WH-Word
Why

+

had
had

+

subject
Janice

+

past participle
gone

home by the time Jerry arrived?

Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole

ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 4 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense

Practice
Fill in the blank with the Past Perfect Tense.
Example:
We went to the movies after we had eaten our dinner. (eat)
Before we ate our dinner, we had not yet gone to the movies. (go) (negative)
Had you eaten your dinner before you went to the movies? (eat)(yes/no question)
Yes, we had. (short answer) (affirmative)
No, we hadn’t. (short answer) (negative)
Why had you eaten your dinner before you went to the movies? (why) (eat)
1. I ____ _______ my work before the clock struck six. (finish)
2. I ____ ____ yet ________ my work before the clock struck six. (finish) (negative)
3. ____ you ________ your work before the clock struck six? (finish) (yes/no question)
4. Yes, I ____. (short answer) (affirmative)
5. No, I ________. (short answer) (negative)
6. ____ ____ you ______ ______ your work early? (why) (finish)(negative)

1. You _____ ________ asleep before the television show ended. (fall)
2. You ____ ____ yet ________ asleep when the television show started. (fall) (negative)
3. ____ you ________ asleep before the television show ended? (fall) (yes/no question)
4. Yes, I ____. (short answer) (affirmative)
5. No, I ____. (short answer) (negative)
6. ____ ____ you ________ asleep so early? (why) (fall)

Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole

ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 5 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense

1. They _____ __________ __________ on Maple Street by the time they moved to First Avenue.
(already)(live)
2. In October, they ____ ____ ____ ___________ to First Avenue. (yet) (move) (negative)
3. ____ they ________ __________ on Maple Street before they
moved to First Avenue? (already) (live) (yes/no question)
4. Yes, they ____. (short answer) (affirmative)
5. No, they ____. (short answer) (negative)
6. ______ ____ they ________ before they moved to First Avenue?
(where) (live)

Use of the Past Perfect Tense
The Past Perfect Tense is used to talk about two different actions in the past. One action was
completed before the other action. Use the Past Perfect Tense to express the first (earlier) action.
Use the Simple Past Tense to express the second (later) action.
Example 1
Janice had gone home by the time that Jerry arrived at the party.
Two actions were completed in the past.
1. Janice went home at 9:00.
2. Jerry arrived at the party at 9:30.
One action was completed before the other action.
First Action = Janice went home
Second Action = Jerry arrived at the party
Use the Past Perfect Tense to express the first action.
Janice had gone home
Use the Simple Past Tense to express the second action.
by the time that Jerry arrived at the party

Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole

ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 6 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense

Example 2
By the time Jerry arrived at the party, Janice had gone home.
Two actions were completed in the past.
1. Jerry arrived at the party at 9:30.
2. Janice went home at 9:00.
One action was completed before the other action.
First Action = Janice went home
Second Action = Jerry arrived at the party
Use the Simple Past Tense to express the second action.
By the time that Jerry arrived at the party,
Use the Past Perfect Tense to express the first action.
Janice had gone home

Example 3
Oscar had read all of his e-mail before he went to work.
Two actions were completed in the past.
1. Oscar read his e-mail at 7:30.
2. Oscar went to work at 8:00.
One action was completed before the other action.
First Action = Oscar read his e-mail
Second Action = Oscar went to work
Use the Past Perfect Tense to express the first action.
Oscar had read all of his e-mail
Use the Simple Past Tense to express the second action.
before he went to work
Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole

ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 7 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense

Example 4
Before Oscar went to work, he had read all of his e-mail.
Two actions in the past were completed.
1. Oscar went to work at 8:00.
2. Oscar read his e-mail at 7:30.
One action was completed before the other action.
First Action = Oscar read all of his e-mail
Second Action = Oscar went to work
Use the Simple Past tense to express the second action.
Before Oscar went to work,
Use the Past Perfect Tense to express the first action.
he had read all of his e-mail

Example 5
After we had eaten our dinner, we went to the movies.
Two actions were completed in the past.
1. We ate our dinner at 6:00.
2. We went to the movies at 7:30.
One action was completed before the other action.
First Action = We ate our dinner
Second Action = We went to the movies
Use the Past Perfect Tense to express the first action.
After we had eaten our dinner,
Use the Simple Past Tense to express the second action.
we went to the movies

Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole

ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 8 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense

Example 6
We went to the movies after we had eaten our dinner.
Two actions were completed in the past.
1. We went to the movies at 7:30.
2. We ate our dinner at 6:00.
One action was completed before the other action.
First Action = We ate our dinner
Second Action = We went to the movies
Use the Simple Past Tense to express the second action.
We went to the movies
Use the Past Perfect Tense to express the first action.
after we had eaten our dinner
Adverbs
Already, yet, ever, just, and never are often used with the Past Perfect Tense in order to emphasize
the action that took place first (the earlier action).

The bus had
already left when
Sara reached the
bus stop.

The Past Perfect
tense emphasizes
Sara's
disappointment.
Sara ran to the
bus stop. She was
too late. The bus
had already left.

Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole

ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 9 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense

Practice
Which action took place first?
Example: He had already talked to her on the phone when I
arrived.
2nd I arrived.
1st He had already talked to her on the phone.

I looked all over the house for Melanie, but she had taken the dog for
a walk.
_____ I looked all over the house for Melanie.
_____ She had taken the dog for a walk.

We went to the station to catch the train, but the train had already left.
_____ The train had already left.
_____ We went to the station to catch the train.

Professor Jones retired after he had taught at the university for 35 years,
_____ Professor Jones retired.
_____ He had taught at the university for 35 years.

Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole

ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 10 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense

An Exception To The Rule
When the time relationship between 2 past events is very clear, you have the option to use the
Simple Past Tense for both actions. This often occurs in sentences with before, after, and as soon
as. All of the sentences below are perfectly correct.
Oscar read all of his e-mail before he went to work.
Oscar had read all of his e-mail before he went to work.
We went to the movies after we ate our dinner.
We went to the movies after we had eaten our dinner.
Joe called his girlfriend as soon as his plane landed in Munich.
Joe called his girlfriend as soon as his plane had landed in Munich.

Multiple Actions in the Past Perfect Tense
Notice how you can use the Past Perfect Tense to talk about more than one action.
Joe knew Munich well because he had visited that beautiful city many times.
Joe visited Munich in 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008.
In 2010, Joe knew Munich well.

Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole

ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 11 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense
Pictures Of The Past Activity

Divide the students into groups. Give each student a photo. Each student looks at the photo and
writes a sentence about it in the simple past tense.
Each student then passes his/her photo to a neighbor in the group. That student looks at the
picture and adds a sentence in the past perfect tense.
Afterward, compare the pictures and sentences.
Examples:

Student # 1 - Simple Past:
Jane listened to a voice mail
message.

Student #1 - Simple Past:
Mary went to the grocery store.

Student # 2 - Past Perfect:

Student # 2 - Past Perfect:

Her boyfriend had left a voice mail
message a few minutes ago.

She had run out of mustard.

Use the photos on pages 12–14 for this activity.
Or
Use your own photos.
Or
Draw pictures to use for this activity.

Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole

ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 12 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense
Pictures Of Past Activity

Student # 1 – Simple Past:

Student # 1 – Simple Past:

Student # 1 – Simple Past:

___________________________

___________________________

___________________________

Student # 2 – Past Perfect:

Student # 2 – Past Perfect:

Student # 2 – Past Perfect:

___________________________

___________________________

___________________________

Student # 1 – Simple Past:
___________________________
Student # 2 – Past Perfect:
___________________________

(Hint: This is a picture of an
inflatable tube man.)

Student # 1 – Simple Past:

Student # 1 – Simple Past:

___________________________

___________________________

Student # 2 – Past Perfect:

Student # 2 – Past Perfect:

___________________________

___________________________

Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole

ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 13 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense
Pictures Of The Past Activity

Student # 1 – Simple Past:
___________________________
Student # 2 – Past Perfect:
___________________________

Student # 1 – Simple Past:
__________________________
Student # 2 – Past Perfect:
__________________________

Student # 1 – Simple Past:

Student # 1 – Simple Past:

___________________________

___________________________

Student # 2 – Past Perfect:

Student # 2 – Past Perfect:

___________________________

___________________________

Student # 1 – Simple Past:
___________________________
Student # 2 – Past Perfect:
___________________________

Student # 1 – Simple Past:
___________________________
Student # 2 – Past Perfect:
___________________________

Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole

ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 14 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense
Pictures Of The Past Activity

Student # 1 – Simple Past:

Student # 1 – Simple Past:

Student # 1 – Simple Past:

___________________________

___________________________

___________________________

Student # 2 – Past Perfect:

Student # 2 – Past Perfect:

Student # 2 – Past Perfect:

___________________________

___________________________

___________________________

Student # 1 – Simple Past:

Student # 1 – Simple Past:

___________________________

___________________________

Student # 2 – Past Perfect:

Student # 2 – Past Perfect:

___________________________

___________________________

Student # 1 – Simple Past:
___________________________
Student # 2 – Past Perfect:
___________________________

Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole

ESL Helpful Handouts

Page 15 of 15
The Past Perfect Tense
Answer Key

p. 4
1. I had finished my work before the clock struck six.
2. I had not yet finished my work before the clock struck six.
3. Had you finished your work before the clock struck six?
4. Yes, I had.
5. No, I hadn’t.
6. Why had you not finished your work early?
1. You had fallen asleep before the television show ended.
2. You had not yet fallen asleep when the television show started.
3. Had you fallen asleep before the television show ended?
4. Yes, I had.
5. No, I hadn’t.
6. Why had you fallen asleep so early?

p.5
1. They had already lived on Maple Street by the time they moved to First Avenue.
2. In October, they had not yet moved to First Avenue.
3. Had they already lived on Maple Street before they moved to First Avenue?
4. Yes, they had.
5. No, they hadn’t.
6. Where had they lived before they moved to First Avenue?
p.9

I looked all over the house for Melanie, but she had taken the dog for a walk.
2 I looked all over the house for Melanie.
1_ She had taken the dog for a walk.
We went to the station to catch the train, but the train had already left.
1 The train had already left.
2 We went to the station to catch the train.
Professor Jones retired after he had taught at the university for 35 years,
2 Professor Jones retired.
1 He had taught at the university for 35 years.

Free Handout: http://sites.google.com/site/eslhelpfulhandouts Photos: Michael Dawes, gailf548, LA Wad, Fletcher Prince, x-ray delta one, kris247,
See-ming Lee, Anomalily, Old Shoe Woman, Ania_*, Richard Guther, danagraves, SP8254, Judy**, Waechor, stopnlook, asterix611, CraZee CrafteeZ, leozaza,
DorkyMum, joaquinuy, Easa Shamih eEko P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y, Ed Yourdon, play4smee, Wellyproject, Borya, nelson NZ, jbcurio, The Eggplant, oddharmonic,
Dalbera, mikebaird, Éole