The past perfect tense is
used in several different ways.
One of the
most common ones happens when there are
two past actions
and one happened before the other: the
tense is used for the first (earlier) action.
use is in indirect speech--when reported
and questions follow a main verb in a past tense.
A third use is for the past unreal forms of conditional
sentences and for wishes about past events.
of these, past perfect tense is used to show something
hypothetical in past time. (The difference in tense
and time is a "signal" that the event is
not real or that it
Past Unreal Conditionals
If I had had time, I would've helped you.
help you because I didn't have time.)
If I hadn't had a flat tire, I wouldn't have been late.
(I was late because I had a flat tire.)
If she had studied more, she would've had a higher score.
(Her score wasn't as high as she wanted because she
didn't study enough.)
If he han't been broke, he would've bought dinner.
buy dinner because he was broke.)
If they hadn't saved their money, they wouldn't have
been able to buy a house. (They were able to buy a house
because they saved their money.)
About the Past
I wish (that) I had studied.
(I didn't study, and I'm sorry.)
They wish (that) they had saved their
(They didn't save their money, and
She wishes (that) she had been able
to talk to you.
(She wasn't able to talk to you, and
He wishes (that) he hadn't drunk so
(He drank too much coffee, and he's
We wish (that) we had taken your advice.
(We didn't take your advice, and we're
that in conditional sentences and
with wish, the past perfect tense
simple past time--but for something
hypothetical or unreal.
In sentences with wish, the use of the past perfect
something hypothetical or unreal
happens when wish is followed
and a clause.
The past perfect is used in the
after that--not for wish.
Also, that may be omitted after wish (see above).
Wish may also be followed by a noun phrase
by to + a verb:
I wish you a happy new year.
I wish to leave.
Because these uses of wish do not refer to unreal
situations, they use "normal" grammar.