Past Perfect Passive

Past Perfect Passive is used to talk about actions or events that happened before some moment or another action in the past.

Uses of the Past Perfect Passive

Similar to the past perfect in the active voice, the past perfect passive expresses a previous action or state that began in the past and continued up to another point in the past, and its consequences have implications for that second point in time. In the picture below, this another point in time is marked by ‘X’.

  • The concert had been rescheduled, so the spectators had to wait for another week.
  • All tickets had been sold out before we even heard about the concert.
  • The dinner had been cooked already when Jeffrey came home.

We use Past Perfect Passive with the same meaning as Past Perfect in the active voice except for the fact that Past Perfect Passive makes focus on the effect (or the object) rather than the doer (the subject) of an action. Read more about the uses of Past Perfect here.

Past Perfect Passive structure

To make statements with the Past Perfect Passive, use:

had been + the Past Participle form of the verb

I had been promoted
You had been promoted
He/she/it had been promoted
We had been promoted
You had been promoted
They had been promoted

It doesn’t matter if the subject of your sentence is singular or plural. The structure doesn’t change.

  • Peter had been fined for speeding twice during the last month, and his driving manner became more careful.
  • The tub had been cleaned before the sink.
  • Had the bank been robbed before the shop was robbed?
  • The fish hadn’t been cooked properly, so we sent it back to the kitchen.

Negative forms of Past Perfect Passive

To make a negative Past Perfect Passive structure, just insert ‘not‘ between ‘had’ and ‘been’ (you can also use ‘hadn’t’ instead of ‘had not’).

  • Because a room had not been booked in advance, we were unable to find a hotel.
  • The meals hadn’t been made before we arrived.

Questions in Past Perfect Passive

The structure for asking questions in Past Perfect Passive is:

had + [subject] + been + Past Participle

  • The meeting was such a mess. Had it been planned by anyone?
  • Had the parcel just been delivered when I arrived?

Here’s a good video from CET Language Department explaining how to use passive voice in Past Perfect:

See also:

Past Perfect: Statements

Past Simple Passive

Present Perfect Passive

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