Grammar for The Lake (Ch16)


The past perfect looks like this: had + past participle

In relation to a simple past tense, the past perfect is often used to move to an earlier past.

Look at this sentence from The Lake (Ch16): ‘He yawned and looked at his watch. It was only 8pm. He hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks.’

The yawn and the look took place in the past – the use of the simple past tense indicates this. However, the lack of ‘a good night’s sleep’ (which means the person slept badly) happened BEFORE the yawn and BEFORE the look. The past perfect has taken the narrative into a more distant past – a time before the other two events (yawn, look)

Here is another example from the Lake (Ch16): ‘Farley started up the engine of the old Ford. He had had to deal with lots of criminals over the years – and a lot of bent cops.’  

Are the following statements TRUE or FALSE?

1. ‘Farley started up the engine’ 

This is an example of a sentence that uses the past perfect

2. Farley started the engine BEFORE he dealt with a lot of criminals

3. ‘He had had to deal with a lot of criminals’

This is an example of a sentence that uses the past perfect

4. Farley dealt with the criminals AFTER he started up the engine

For more practice with the past perfect, visit this site:


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