Hi, How are you all ?

Well, I'm reading an english grammer book called English Grammer In Use and I reached to the past perfect and I'm facing troubles in getting the idea of where and how to use it. Sometimes I understand the way but after a while it quickly fades out....So I want some one who could explain to me how to use the past perfect..and I have another question , is the past perfect is widely used in the english socities or they usually use the past tense?
Past perfect is widely used in everyday speech. It allows the speaker or writer to indicate that of two things in the past, one was finished before the other.

"I ate at the Diner and I met Bill" = Two things happened - no indication of which came first.
"I ate at the Diner when I met Bill" = Probably means Bill and I ate together (slightly ambiguous without context).
"I had eaten at the Diner when I met Bill" = When I saw Bill I had already finished eating.


Thanks alot John, but could you give me more examples ?
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Let me put it another way: "Perfect" in a grammatical sense means completed.


I am eating (Present progressive - going on now)
I have eaten (Present perfect - completed as of now)
I had eaten (Past perfect - completed in the past)

The last doesn't make any sense unless the reader or listener knows the context that the writer or speaker is referring to - i.e. Had eaten before what other thing?

So, in context:
"Did getting the bad news spoil your dinner?"
"No I had already eaten [before I got the bad news]."

In this example, getting bad news and eating were both completed before the discussion took place, but the eating was finished before the bad news was received.


I got the idea but I find it a bit confusing especially when I imagine my self speaking with someone and I have to use the past perfect. I beleive that I would spend the whole time in thinking do I have to use the past perfect or past tense or even another thing. I don't want the one I speak to to have a headache because of me I mean I usually use the past tense and I notice even my english teacher in the class that he uses the past tenses mostly..so what do you think john and is there some way to improve my skill in using the correct grammer ? By the way when did join this forum I mean that I used to write in this forum and (I had not seen you before) I hope I'm writting it correctly.
the past perfect generally refers to 'the past in the past' so you only use it if you are referring to a time that was clearly before something else also in the past.

e.g. He talked to her for an hour about how he had missed her.

This means he missed her and later, when he saw her again, he talked to her about it.

When you list or narrate things in the past, one after the other (chronologically) there is no need to use this tense. It really only comes into play when when refer back to an earlier time also in the past.

Apart from that, technically it is 'one step back' from both the past simple and the present perfect. It exists in the simple and in the continuous form. There is no passive of the continuous form.

If it is used and there are several verbs in a row, chances are that the speaker or writer does not keep on using it and starts using the simple past to continue after having introduced what s/he is saying about this tiem period in the past perfect.

Hope this helps, though I'm sure it's nowhere near complete.

Enjoy English even if you get the past perfect wrong. Tip for spoken English: don't overuse it... but if you don't use it where it shoudl be sued, you might create misunderstandings...


He had drunk all the wine when I came home. (There's none left...)
he drank all the wine when I came home. (Upon my returning home, he started drinking)
he was drinking all teh wine when... (He was in the middle of something...)

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I appreciate your help Tomix it was a great help to me, I was thinking to stop using the past perfect until I understand it 100% now I'm thinking of using it but as you said without overusing