The Past Perfect Tense (Passive Voice)

1. Review: the past perfect tense

The past perfect is for a past that has happened before another past.

It requires two past events:

  • a first past event
  • a second past event that happened before it.
Past event 1Past Event 2
(happened before past event 1)
Example sentence
Jimmy got to schoolThe bell rungJimmy got to school after the bell had rung.
I arrivedSheila leftSheila had gone by the time I arrived.

*Note: Past Event 1 can placed at the start or at the end.

Past Event 1 at endPast Event 1 at start
Sheila had gone by the time I arrived.By the time I arrived, Sheila had gone.

The past perfect tense is made by:

  • subject + had + perfect participle (+ object) + past event 1

*Perfect participle (p.p.) = gone, done, seen, eaten etc.

SubjectHadP.p.(Object)Past event 1Example sentence
Hehadfinisheddinnerhis wife got homeHe had finished dinner by the time his wife got home.
Gregghadsoldthe carI called himBy the time I called him, Gregg had already sold the car.
The patienthaddiedthe ambulance arrivedBy the time the ambulance arrived, the patient had died.

2. What is the passive voice?

The passive voice changes ‘x did something to y’ into ‘y has something done to it (by x)’.

It is made by:

  • object + be + perfect participle (+ by subject)

*Perfect participle (p.p.) = gone, done, seen, eaten etc.

‘Be’ changes depending on the tense you want to use (present, past, future, perfect, etc.).

3. The past perfect tense (passive voice)

The past perfect passive uses the structure:

  • object + had + been + p.p. (+ by subject) + past event 1
ObjectHadBeenP.p.(By subject)Past event 1Example sentence
the gardenhadbeencleanedhis parents got homeThe garden had been cleaned by the time his parents got home.
Allyhadbeentoldby PercyI went to tell AllyBy the time I went to tell Ally, she had already been told by Percy.
the moneyhadbeenmovedby the drug dealerthe police investigatedThe police only investigated after the money had been moved by the drug dealer.
the picnichadbeenmadeJosh offered to helpJosh only offered to help after the picnic had been made.

4. Converting a past perfect into its passive voice

To turn the past perfect tense into its passive voice:

1. swap the subject and object
2. change ‘had + p.p.’ into ‘had been + p.p.’

Past perfect tensePast perfect tense (passive)
She had cooked dinner before he got homeDinner had been cooked before he got home
The police had arrested Megan by the time I got there.By the time I got there, Megan had been arrested by the police.
They had already finished painting the house by the time he came back from work.The house had already been painted by time he came back from work.

5. Exercises

1. Change these into the passive voice:
(i) They had lost the match before the manager even arrived.
(ii) Her husband had cooked dinner before she got home from work.
(iii) By the end of the 20th century, people had killed many species of animals.

2. Change these out of the passive voice:
(i) The fan had been fixed by the time they got home.
(ii) They got home to find a tree had been knocked over by the wind.
(iii) When Dave returned from his holiday, he found the locks on his door had been changed by his wife.