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Perfect Verbs and Past Participles

Perfect Verbs and Past Participles

Perfect verbs show actions that are finished or complete. For example, “I have eaten” means the eating is done. To use the perfect tense, we need the past participle of a verb. In this case, it would be “have eaten”.

There are three types of perfect verbs:

  1. Past perfect
  2. Present perfect
  3. Future perfect

Let’s look at each type of perfect tense in more detail.

Past Perfect Tense

Past perfect tells us an action was completed in the past. This tense helps us see which of the two past events happened first.

Structure: subject + had/have + past participle of verb
Example: “She had left before the rain started.”

So, this means she was already gone by the time it began to rain. By using past perfect tense, you can understand the sequence of events in the past.

Present Perfect Tense

Present perfect tells us an action was completely in the recent past.

Structure: subject + have/has + past participle of verb
Example: “They have finished their homework.”

Present perfect tense shows they finished their homework at an unspecified time before now. So, it means they are now free to do something else.

Future Perfect Tense

Future perfect tense tells us an action will be completed in the future by a certain point in the future. 

Structure: subject + will have + past participle of the verb
Example: “By 2050, scientists will have found a cure for cancer.”

It uses future perfect tense to describe an action (finding a cure for cancer) that will be completed before a specific time in the future (by 2050). The use of “will have found” follows the structure of the future perfect tense.

Past Participles in Perfect Tense

To form a perfect verb, we need a past participle. Remember that past participles indicate a completed action. For example, “walked”, “eaten”, and “seen” are past participles.

For regular verbs, the past participle is the same as the simple past tense. But they might be different for irregular verbs. For instance, “eat – ate – eaten” is an irregular verb.

Here’s an example of a regular verb with its simple past and past participles:

Regular VerbSimple PastPast Participle

Here’s an example of an irregular verb with its simple past and past participle:

Irregular VerbSimple PastPast Participle

Regular Perfect Verbs Examples

Can you think of regular verbs and their past participles? We’ll start with 5 examples of regular verbs, including their past tense and past participle forms. Both are the same for regular verbs.

  • Walk – walked – walked
  • Clean – cleaned – cleaned
  • Jump – jumped – jumped
  • Cook – cooked – cooked
  • Laugh – laughed – laughed

As you can see, regular verbs follow a pattern. This makes it easier to remember their past forms.

Irregular Perfect Verbs Examples

Irregular verbs don’t follow a standard pattern for past tense and past participle forms. This makes them trickier to learn.

Here are 5 examples of irregular verbs, showing how their past tense and past participle forms can differ:

  • Go – went – gone
  • Begin – began – begun
  • Eat – ate – eaten
  • Sing – sang – sung
  • Write – wrote – written

If you’re looking for more irregular verbs, make sure to check out our list of the 50 most common irregular verbs.

Perfect Verbs

To recap, perfect verbs show completed actions in English. They help us understand when something happened, whether in the past, present, or future.

By using past participles, we can describe actions that are finished or will be finished by a certain time. So, perfect verbs help us clearly state when things happen or finish.

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