Past Perfect Simple Tense
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Past perfect tense is used to indicate that one action occurred before another action in the past. In other words, past perfect tense indicates the first of the two actions. *
- When I woke up this morning, my roommate had left already.
- After I had eaten my dinner, I went to see a movie.
- Before I arrived at the theater, the movie had already begun.
Sometimes, when the meaning is clear from context, the simple past tense can be used.
- After I had gone shopping, I stopped at the health spa.
- After I went shopping, I stopped at the health spa.
The most common error with the past perfect is using it where it does not belong.
|When I was young, I had been a cowboy.
When I was young, I was a cowboy.
|(Incorrect—no reference to other events)
|Yesterday the Johnsons had opened their new business.
Yesterday the Johnsons opened their new business.
In some very unusual
cases, the past perfect tense
can refer to the second
- Before I had finished my homework, the telephone rang.
- (The telephone interrupted me before I finished my homework.)