Join Rosa and I as we study the past perfect tense and future perfect tense. See you in class!
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In this class we're going to study the past and the future perfect. They seem like strange tenses to teach together because on is past and one is future, but as you'll see they actually have a lot in common. Let's start with the past perfect.
PAST PERFECT USAGE
The past perfect can only be explained in a strange way. It is the past of the past. It means that we use it when we want to talk about an event that is earlier than an event we are already talking about, or that is inferred by the context. To understand this concept I would like to introduce you to the idea of the "mental clock".
For example, let's imagine you did three things yesterday. First, you had a shower, then you ate breakfast, then you went to work. If we are talking about you eating breakfast, then our mental clock is at breakfast, so then if we want to talk about your shower we need to use the past perfect, because it is further in the past than our current mental clock. If we then wanted to talk about you going to work then we can't use the past perfect because it is not further in the past than our mental clock.
I ate breakfast quickly because I had spent too long in the shower.
One important thing to note, unlike the present perfect it is not restricted to actions whose time is not mentioned.
PAST PERFECT CONSTRUCTION
The past perfect construction is very simple. It consists of the an auxiliary verb (the past of to have), and then the participle of the main verb, as shown in this table:
Because there is only one conjugation of to have in the past, the only thing we need to conjugate is the verb. To make negatives, we just add "not", and for questions we invert the subject and the auxiliary. Easy!
PAST PERFECT WITH TIME CLAUSES
The past perfect is very useful when we need to clarify that an action happened before another action. Let's look at two examples:
She sat down when she ate the pizza. (past simple)
She sat down when she had eaten the pizza. (past perfect)
We can see that in the first example with past simple that it's not clear if she sat down and ate the pizza at the same time, but using the past perfect it is very clear that she sat down after eating the pizza.
Let's look at another example with until:
He waited until we finished our pizza. (past simple)
He waited until we had finished our pizza. (past perfect)
In the first example the person waiting could be happening before or after finishing the pizza, but in the second example it's very clear that the waiting happened before finishing the pizza.
But, if we do use time clauses to indicate the order of events, or if the order of events is obvious from the context, then the use of the past perfect is optional, and you can use the past simple instead, for example:
We bought some pizzas, because we had heard that the new pizza shop was excellent. (past perfect)
We bought some pizzas, because we heard that the new pizza shop was excellent. (past simple)
In this case it's obvious that we heard about pizza shop before we bought the pizzas, so both tenses are possible.
FUTURE PERFECT USAGE
Now, As we saw the past perfect is the past of the past, and this helps us to understand that the future perfect is the past of the future!
Let's imagine that tomorrow you are going to do three things: go to dinner, go to the cinema, and then go out for drinks. Now, if we start talking about going out for drinks then we set our mental clock at drinks, so if we then want to talk about going to the cinema, then we need to use the past perfect, because it is before the drinks.
We can meet for drinks at 9pm because the film will have finished at 8:30pm.
It is especially used to emphasise the duration of an activity in the future, for example:
Next year I will have worked in this company for 10 years.
FUTURE PERFECT CONSTRUCTION
The future perfect construction is basically the same as the past perfect, we just change the auxiliary verb (the future of to have), as shown in this table:
Because there is only one conjugation of to have in the future, the only thing we need to conjugate is the verb. To make negatives, we just add "not", and for questions we invert the subject and the auxiliary. Easy!
FUTURE PERFECT WITH "BY"
The most common usage of the future perfect is with "by". For example, by the time, by then, by the 9th, etc. For example:
I will have passed my English exam by then.
By the time you arrive, we will have eaten pizza.
As with the present perfect continuous, theses two tenses indicate that the action is still continuing, has recently finished, or is repetitive.