If I want to use Past Perfect, are my sentences grammatically correct?

Sentences -

  1. I hadn't finished my meal.
  2. Anthony hadn't had a day off for months.
  3. They had not eaten for five hours.
  4. I had just eaten.
  5. Where had she gone?
  6. We were too late. The train had left.

As far I know there should be two incidents in the past to use Past Perfect.

Note: Those sentences are collected from an educational website.

  • 1
    Maybe you could provide a link to the site where you found these sentences. Example 6 has "two incidents", so the past perfect is justified. Presumably the other sentences are set in an explicit or implicit context that justifies their use of the past perfect too. For example: She asked me if I wanted to play tennis but I had just eaten so I said no. – Shoe Apr 5 at 7:14
  • It's not so much 'two incidents' as that the verb in the past perfect has to relate to a later situation. "They hadn't eaten for five hours" assumes that we are talking about the hungry people at a particular moment - when they reached the end of their journey, when they got their next meal or whatever it may be. – Kate Bunting Apr 5 at 7:25
  • The Perfect construction, in either present or past tense, is always used in a particular context (which does not have to be in the same sentence -- it may simply be well-known to speaker and addressee and not need further expression). These example sentences are Perfect constructions, but in most cases they've been separated from their context and are therefore strangling like a fish out of water. This is not how the Perfect operates. – John Lawler Apr 5 at 14:12
  • 1
    @JohnLawler Curiouser and curiouser. How does a fish strangle out of water? Does it involve a particular technique that differs from when it is in the water? [sorry, couldn't resist. We all need more wisecracks. ] – Lambie Apr 6 at 20:06
  • "As far I know there should be two incidents in the past to use Past Perfect Tense", Allow me to restate that for you: As far I know there is one incident in the simple past preceded by another one that comes before it. Right, generally speaking. The trick is that the simple past incident may or may not be given in a particular utterance, but can be pre-supposed by a speaker. – Lambie Apr 6 at 20:12

Your sentences are grammatically correct.

Generally speaking, one utilizes the past perfect tense when speaking, in the past, about an event happening even further in the past, in relation to the event mentioned in the first place.

Especially illustrative of this rule is your example #6, which I rephrase a little below:

By the time we reached the station, the train had already departed.

Here, I am talking about a past event, us arriving to the station, and placing another event, the train's departure, even further in the past in relation to our arrival.

In Latin, the past perfect is called very descriptively "plus-quam-perfect", i.e., "more than perfect", "perfect" here meaning that an action has been "perfected", that is, finished, rounded up, etc.

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