Perfect tense activities

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Activities for perfect and pluperfect (past perfect) tenses.

These are a few exercises for the perfect tense (I have gone) and pluperfect (I had gone). Some more traditional teachers and non-linguistic sources use the older terms present perfect and past perfect, respectively, but linguists simply call them the perfect and pluperfect. (Pluperfect is from French plus+perfect or "more perfect" (completed).

1 Perfect tense: Medical history

Students role play as doctor and patient. They can be provided some vocabulary (perhaps in info-gap style). Simply put, the patient describes a medical condition, and the doctor asks about medical history and recent symptoms.

1.1 Instructions

You will play the roles of doctor and patient. The patient comes in complaining of a malady, and the doctor will ask questions about recent symptoms and medical history with the perfect tense. Patients can start with basic complaints like headache, stomach ache, body aches, unusual skin conditions, chronic dizziness, or others.


  • Do you / have you (ever)...?
  • How long have you...?
  • Since when have you...?
  • How long has it been since ...?

History and symptoms to ask about:

aches or pains
bad acne or pimples
bad breath
body odor
difficulty in breathing / short of breath
difficulty in walking or moving around

do drugs
drink (alcohol)
ear infection
eyesight problems
feel drowsy
feel dizzy
feel irritable
foot odor
insomnia (difficulty sleeping or falling asleep)

muscle aches
night sweats
runny nose
serious illness
sick often
skin rash
sore back
stomach problems

2 Pluperfect

This is not communicative, but a more traditional sentence completion or fill-in-the-blank exercise that students could do in pairs or small groups with appropriate pluperfect verbs. Perhaps this could be made more communicative somehow.

2.1 A Grand Day Out

Ralph had a terrible day yesterday. He woke up an hour late because

He tried to put on his socks after ___ already ____

By the time he left the house,

While he was getting into his car, he saw that

When he got to work, his boss was very upset with him because

In addition, his coworkers were upset with him, since

He could tell it was going to be a bad day before

When he turned on his computer, he found that _____________________, so he couldn't get any work done that morning.

During the lunch break he realized that he didn't have enough money; the day before,

So he went to the bank to get money from the ATM. But _________________________, so he couldn't use the machine.

So he went inside the bank, and while he was standing in line, a bank robbery occurred. Naturally, he didn't have a chance to get any money during lunch, and he came back to work feeling tired because

When he came to work, his boss was angry at him again for being late, even though

While he was working in his office cubicle, a police officer came to see him about

After work he went to the parking garage and found that , even though

On top of all that, when he got home, his dog bit him because