Example Sentences with the Past Perfect

These example sentences with the past perfect show you the different ways in which it is used to show how one event in the past preceded another past event.

They show you words commonly used to link past perfect and past simple clauses such as before, when, until, because and that, plus sentences with if and wish.

Check out the lesson on when to use the past perfect tense if you are unsure of how to use it.

Examples of the Past Perfect Tense


With 'before', 'until', 'when' & 'by the time'

  1. I had already finished my assignment before the professor collected it.

  2. By the time they arrived, the party had already ended.

  3. She had traveled to six countries before she turned 25.

  4. The team had practiced diligently before the big game.

  5. He had saved enough money to buy a new car before his old one broke down.

  6. They had never seen such a beautiful sunset until they visited the beach.

  7. The movie had already started when we entered the theater.

  8. By the time I woke up, my family had already left for the airport.

  9. She had completed her PhD before she got married.

  10. He had studied Spanish for three years before he moved to Spain.

  11. The storm had just passed by the time we arrived at the beach.

  12. They had lived in that house for 10 years before they decided to move.

  13. I had never tasted sushi until I went to Japan.

  14. By the time I got there, the concert had already begun.

  15. She had finished reading the entire book series before the movie was released.

  16. He had cooked dinner before his guests arrived.

  17. They had already booked their flights before the travel restrictions were announced.

  18. The package had been delivered before I got home.

  19. By the time I reached the store, all the sale items had been sold out.

  20. She had just left the office when the important phone call came in.


With 'because', 'that', and 'so/so that'

  1. He had studied so diligently that he aced the exam.

  2. She had saved up enough money so she could go on a dream vacation.

  3. They had practiced their performance so many times that they were flawless on stage.

  4. I missed the train because I had overslept.

  5. He had completed all his assignments early so that he could enjoy his weekend.

  6. She had trained extensively for the marathon so that she could finish it successfully.

  7. They had worked together so effectively that they completed the project ahead of schedule.

  8. I had prepared a detailed report because it was needed for the board meeting.

  9. He had read so many books on the subject that he became an expert in the field.

  10. She had organized her schedule so efficiently that she had time for both work and hobbies.


With 'if' (third conditional)

  1. If they had studied harder, they would have passed the exam.

  2. If she had listened to my advice, she wouldn't have made that mistake.

  3. He would have earned a higher salary if he had taken the job offer.

  4. If we had arrived on time, we wouldn't have missed the opening ceremony.

  5. I would have left earlier if I had known about the traffic.


With 'wish' for regrets

  1. I wish I had studied abroad during my college years.

  2. She wishes she had spent more time with her grandparents before they passed away.

  3. We wish we had bought tickets for the concert in advance.

  4. He wishes he had pursued his passion for music instead of a corporate career.

  5. They wish they had taken a longer vacation last summer.


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