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Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #64718: Past perfect tense
Past perfect tense
The past perfect tense is used when we wish to mention an action which was completed sometime in the past before another action took place.
That is to say , when two actions take place in the past we use the past perfect tense for the action which took place first and the simple past tense for the action which takes place next.
Consider the sentence:
When I arrived at the cinema the film started. There is a problem in this sentence. One would wonder whether I arrived at the cinema before the film had begun or after it had.
Now consider the sentence:
When I arrived at the cinema the film had already started. Things become clear now ( I was late when arriving at the cinema ).
The past perfect tense is formed by using 'had' plus the past participle of the given verb.
I ( arrive at ) the station before the train left. The past perfect tense would be 'had' plus past participle of arrive ie arrived
So, I had arrived at the station before the train left.
It is the same for all the persons ie had plus past participle of the given verb.
N.B. Please remember to use the past perfect tense for the action which occurs first in the past and the simple past tense for the action that occurs next.
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