Past perfect


Past Perfect is important because it tells us about two actions happening in the past, but not at the same time. In other words, one action happens before another, but both actions are in the past.

Mom cooking

My mother cooked chicken curry.

Boy getting home

3:00 pm
I got home.

To express the action that happened first, we are going to use the past perfect and to express the action that took place later (the second action), we are going to use the simple past. In this tense, the past participle and simple past forms of the verbs that are going to be needed.

According to the previous explanation, we express the following sentence:

My mother had cooked chicken curry before I got home.

As you can see, the first action that occurred must be written with the auxiliary “had” (which is the past of have) and the main verb in Past Participle (cook – cooked). And the second action, must be written with the main verb in Simple Past (get – got).

Check these other examples:


Activity 1

Nightmare on Christmas Eve

Have you had misfortunes during a holiday or celebration? Let’s read what happened to Albert and his family last December on Christmas Eve.

Christmas dinner

Pixabay. (s.f.). Christmas dinner. Taken from:

Check the timetable. Then read the text and drag the phrases in past perfect to complete it.



12:00 pm

Put the turkey in the oven

2:00 pm

Everyone helps to make the meal

6:00 pm

Make the apple salad

6:30 pm

Complete the cooking

6:45 pm

Finish to set the table

6:50 pm

Turn on the stove

11:30 pm

Wait for more than four hours

11:25 pm

Give up hope


Activity 2

The Sleepy Thief

When you do something, do it in the right way. If you don’t do it, you can end up like this man.

Thief arrested by police

Pixabay. (s.f.). Detener. Taken from:

Click on the image. Listen to the news report and then answer True or False.

Click on the Start button to answer the questions. Once you finish all the parts of the exam, click on Submit and finish.


Activity 3

The bad tenant
Girl in apartment Pixabay. (s.f.). Annoying girl. Taken from:

Imagine you had a discussion with your roommate and he or she decided to move to another apartment but you weren’t told about it. Just one morning you go out and when you come back you couldn’t believe your eyes. Your roommate had gone!

Write a paragraph describing what your roommate had done to your apartment while you were out.

First, check this rubric to know what is necessary in your writing for a self-evaluation. In this link you can read an example.


Activity 4.

And the rest?

Sometimes we can’t make it because in the process to reach the objective something happens and it spoils our plans or our intentions.

Pixabay. (s.f.). Pensitive. Taken from:

Read the first part of each sentence. Then, you are going to complete the second part of the sentence using your own ideas in Past Perfect. Read in this link the check list for a self-evaluation. Click here to listen to the examples. Then compare them to your own work.

Remember to record your sentences to send them to your assessor.

  • I didn’t see the movie because…
  • I got angry because…
  • I bought a new computer because…
  • I couldn’t do my homework because…
  • My mobile didn’t work because…
  • I opened the door because…
  • I argued with my best friend because…
  • I couldn’t go to the dentist because…
  • I couldn’t eat that piece of meat because…
  • I didn’t recognize you because…


Completing the sentences

The Past Perfect describes sentences that happened before other actions in the past. After reviewing this topic, do the following activity.

Practice the negative and the interrogative forms

To build our speech, the affirmative sentences are not the only ones that are required. Also the negative and interrogative sentences are vital, that is why is very important to practice them.



  • Thornbury, S. (2004). Natural Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Azar, B. and Hagen, S. (2009). Understanding and Using English Grammar. New York: Pearson Education.