How to use Past Perfect tense

S + had + past participle (V3) + when/before/by the time + S + Vpast (V2)

S + Vpast (V2) + after + S + had + past participle (V3)

We need a comma if the conjunction begins the sentence.

When/before/by the time + S + Vpast (V2) , S + had + past participle (V3)

After + S + had + past participle (V3) , S + Vpast (V2)

We use the past perfect tense fairly often in English.

1: A completed action before something else in the past.

When we arrived, the film had started. (= first the film started, then later we arrived)

2: To explain or give a reason for something in the past.

I’d eaten dinner so I wasn’t hungry.
It had snowed in the night, so the bus didn’t arrive.

3: Stative verbs only: something that started in the past and continued up to another action in the past.
When he graduated, he had been in London for six years.

(= he arrived in London six years before he graduated and lived there continuously until he graduated, or even longer)

4: As part of the third conditional.
If I had known you were ill, I would have visited you.

Source: Perfect English Grammar


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