Past Perfect vs. Past Participle

There are similarities and differences between past perfect and past participle, which might cause confusion. To learn more, click here!

What is Their Main Difference?

The main difference between past perfect and past participle is that past participle is a form of verb whereas past perfect is one of the tenses in the English grammar.

Uses and Comparison

1. Past Perfect

  • Past perfect tense is used to talk about the order of two past events that follow each other. Take a look at the following examples:

When I arrived, she had slept already.

I cooked dinner before I had gone to bed.

  • We also use past perfect tense to talk about an action that started in the past and was in progress up until the starting point of another action. Have a look:

When I left my parent's house, I had been in Highschool.

She had worked here for 5 months when I joined the team.

  • When we are reporting what someone else has said we can use past perfect. We often use verbs such as said, told, wondered, asked. This is an indirect reported speech that is used with 'that-clauses.' Pay attention to these examples:

She told me that she had stopped seeing her boyfriend.

He said that he had explained everything the previous session.

  • We tend to use past perfect when we are referring to imaginary and hypothetical situations. This also applies to wishes, hopes, and dreams. Have a look:

She had wished to move to another

I could have passed the test if I had known about it.

2. Past Participle

  • Past participle is a verb form that refers to past events or already finished actions. Take a look:

I looked at the box.

I worked so hard to get here.

  • Past participle plays a crucial role in the creation of tenses. If you pay attention to the following table, you will notice that it is used with 'perfect' forms of tenses. For example:

I have helped him multiple times.

The past participle has been used to create the present perfect .

I had listened to this podcast before.

The past participle has been used to create the past perfect.

I will have finished by now.

The past participle has been used to create the future perfect

  • Past participle is also used to create the third conditional, modals in the past, and the passive form. For example:

If I had not missed her call, I would have been able to help her.

The past participle is used to create the third conditional.

I could have helped her out.

The past participle has been used to form modals.

She was helped by me.

The past participle has been used to create a passive voice in the sentence.

Structure

1. Past Perfect Tense

Past perfect tense is formed by adding the past tense of the verb 'have' which is 'had' followed by the past participle of the main verb. Have a look:

He had cooked for all of us.

They had visited us before.

2. Past Participle

The structure of past participle is different with regular and irregular verbs:

2.1. Regular Verbs

Past participle is the third principal part of a verb. To create it, we simply add '-ed,' '-d,' or '-t' to the base of our regular verb. Here are some examples for clarity:

To watch → Watched

To cry → Cried

2.2. Irregular Verbs

The tricky part in creating past participle is when we are faced with irregular verbs which do not take a certain pattern. The only way to use them is to learn them by heart. For example:

To be → Been

To run → Ran

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