Past Perfect Games, ESL Activities and Worksheets

I wish and If only

ESL Past Perfect Game - Reading and Writing Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 30 minutes

In this past perfect game, students use 'I wish' and 'If only' + 'the past perfect' to express regrets about health problems. Divide the students into teams of three. Read a health problem to the class (e.g. 'I've got a toothache'.) and set a time limit of two minutes. The teams then write down as many regrets as they can for the ailment using 'I wish' and 'If only' + 'the past perfect'. For example, 'I wish I hadn’t eaten so many sweets'. 'If only I had gone to the dentist more often', etc. When the time limit has been reached, the teams stop writing and swap their paper with another team for marking. Teams score one point for each appropriate regret in the past perfect. Write the scores on the board and then read the next health problem and so on. The team with the highest score at the end of the game wins.
 

Past Perfect Truth Seekers

ESL Past Perfect Activity - Matching, Listening and Speaking - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 25 minutes

In this fun past perfect activity, students ask and answer questions about their experiences of growing up. Give each student a copy of the worksheet. The students begin by matching an activity with one of the pictures on the worksheet and writing the activity under the picture. Students then put a cross through one activity in each category. Next, divide the students into pairs. Students take it in turns to ask and answer questions about the activities in the pictures using the past perfect, e.g. 'Had you broken a bone by the time you were seven?' When a partner asks about the activities that are crossed out, the other student has to lie about their experiences. When talking about experiences that are not crossed out, the student tells the truth. Their partner then asks follow-up questions to help them find out if the student is telling the truth or lying. Their partner then guesses whether the student is lying or telling the truth and the answer is revealed. For each correct guess, students score a point. The student with the most points at the end of the activity is the winner.
 

What had happened?

ESL Past Perfect Game - Reading, Writing, Matching and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 35 minutes

In this entertaining past perfect game, students complete and match past simple sentences with explanations in the past perfect. Give each pair of students a set of number cards. Each card contains an incomplete past simple sentence. The students look at each sentence and think about what had happened and how the sentence might be continued using the past perfect. Students do this orally or by writing their ideas on a piece of paper. Afterwards, review the students' ideas and use of the past perfect. Next, give each pair a set of letter cards. Each card contains the second part of one of the past simple sentences. The students spread both sets of cards out on the table face up. Students then take it in turns to match each past simple sentence with an explanation. Each time a student matches two cards together, they complete the gap with the verb in brackets in the past perfect tense and keep the two cards. When everyone has finished, check the correct answers with the class. Students score one point for each correctly matched and completed pair of cards. The student with the highest score in each pair wins the game.
 

Why did you say that?

ESL Past Perfect Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking and Matching - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 25 minutes

In this free past perfect activity, students write explanations for saying certain things and then play a game where they match a partner's explanations to questions. Give each student a copy of the worksheet. The students write explanations in the past perfect tense for saying the things shown on their worksheet, e.g. 'Why did you say 'I'm sorry' to your friend?' 'I had forgotten her birthday'. When all the explanations have been written down, divide the students into pairs. Students then take it in turns to read one of their explanations at random to their partner. Their partner has one chance to try to match the explanation to the right 'Why did you say...?' question. If a student makes a correct match, he or she scores a point. This continues back and forth until all the past perfect explanations have been read out. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins.
 

Past Perfect Party

ESL Past Simple and Past Perfect Worksheet - Reading and Writing Activity - Low intermediate (B1) - 30 minutes

In this past simple and past perfect worksheet, students write emails describing a series of events. Give each student a copy of the worksheet. The students read through a scenario about a disastrous party. The students then match problems that happened at the party with explanations of what happened. After the students have done that, they write an email about the party using the past simple to talk about the problems and the past perfect to explain what happened. When everyone has finished, the students read their emails to the class. Afterwards, students use the past simple and past perfect to write a reply to the email, detailing the unfortunate events that happened to someone else. Finally, the students read their completed emails to the class.
 
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Past Perfect Party Interactive Worksheet

ESL Past Simple and Past Perfect Interactive Worksheet - Reading and Writing Online Activity - Low intermediate (B1) - 30 minutes

Here is an interactive PDF version of the above worksheet for people who teach online. In the interactive worksheet, online learners write emails that describe a series of events using the past simple and past perfect.
 

Past Perfect and Past Simple Worksheet

ESL Past Perfect and Past Simple Worksheet - Reading and Writing Activity - Intermediate (B1) - 30 minutes

This past perfect worksheet helps students learn and practice how to use the past perfect with the past simple and sequence words. Give each student a copy of the two-page worksheet. Students begin by completing sentences with the past perfect or past simple form of the verbs in brackets. Next, students rewrite sentence parts in the correct order. Students then move on to match past perfect and past simple sentence halves together. After that, students complete past perfect and past simple sentence halves with their own ideas. Afterwards, review the students' sentences together as a class. Finally, students answer questions using sequence words. When the students have finished, review their answers and provide feedback.
 
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Past Perfect and Past Simple Interactive Worksheet

ESL Past Perfect and Past Simple Interactive Worksheet - Reading and Writing Online Activity - Intermediate (B1) - 30 minutes

This is an interactive PDF version of the above worksheet for teachers who are working online. The interactive worksheet can be used to help students learn and practice how to use the past perfect with the past simple.
 

Fact or Fiction

ESL Past Perfect Activity - Reading, Writing and Speaking - Intermediate (B1) - 40 minutes

In this free past perfect activity, students write realistic and imaginative explanations for situations. Give each pair of students a copy of the worksheet. The students write two explanations for each situation on their worksheet - a realistic explanation (Fact) and an imaginative explanation (Fiction). Next, read the first situation from the worksheet to the class, i.e. 'I walked into class, but I didn’t recognize anyone'. The pairs then take it in turns to read their ‘Fact’ explanation to the class using the past perfect, e.g. 'You had walked into the wrong class'. The class then votes for the most realistic explanation. The winning pair scores a point. The pairs then read out their 'Fiction' explanations, e.g. 'You had lost your memory'. Again, the class votes for the best one. This process continues with the second situation and so on. The pair with the most points at the end of the activity is the winner.
 

Past Perfect Explanations

ESL Past Perfect Game - Reading and Speaking Activity - Intermediate (B1) - 25 minutes

Here is an amusing past perfect game to play in class. Give each group of four a set of situation cards, which they shuffle and place face down in a pile on the desk. Students then take it in turns to pick up a card and read the sentence aloud to the rest of the group, e.g. 'I slept in my car all night'. The other students have to each come up with an explanation for the situation using the past perfect, e.g. 'I slept in my car all night, because the car had broken down and I was miles from home'. Each explanation the students give must be different. Students receive one point for each believable explanation they can come up with. Then, the next student picks up a card and so on. This continues until all the cards have been used. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins.
 

Past Perfect Story Time

ESL Past Perfect Activity - Reading and Writing - Intermediate (B1) - 30 minutes

In this imaginative past perfect teaching activity, students write short group stories using the past perfect. Give each group of four a set of cards. Each student takes a card and completes the first sentence of the story in the past perfect tense. When the students have finished, they pass their card to the student on their right. The next student reads the first sentence and then continues the story by writing a second sentence. Afterwards, the student hands the story to the student on their right who writes the third sentence. The following student finishes the story with their fourth sentence. Each student then reads their past perfect story to the group. The activity is then repeated with the other four cards. After listening to all the stories, each group decides which one they like the best. Finally, each group reads out their best story to the class and feedback is given.
 

The Other Half

ESL Past Perfect Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Matching - Intermediate (B1) - 35 minutes

In this free past perfect activity, students complete and match sentences in the past perfect tense. Give each student a copy of the first worksheet. The students think about how the 15 sentences on the worksheet might be continued. The students then complete the sentences in the past perfect tense using their own ideas. After that, divide the students into pairs. The students compare their sentences by reading them to each other. Then, give each student an A or B worksheet. Student A starts by reading the first sentence half to Student B. Student B listens and tries to find the other half of the sentence. When Student B thinks they have found a matching ending, they read it to Student A. When both students agree the two halves match, they mark the matching number or letter next to the sentence. This continues until all the sentence halves have been matched. Afterwards, check the answers with the class. Finally, the students check how many sentences were the same as what they wrote on the first worksheet.
 

Past Perfect Puzzles

ESL Past Perfect Game - Reading, Listening and Speaking Activity - Upper-intermediate (B2) - 25 minutes

In this intriguing past perfect game, students listen to puzzles and ask yes/no questions in order to work out the solutions. Give each group of four a set of puzzles. The students take it in turns to read out a puzzle for the other members of the group to solve. The group members ask yes/no questions to the student in order to work out the solution to the puzzle. The first student to solve the puzzle scores a point. The next student then takes a puzzle and reads it to the group and so on. This continues until all the puzzles have been solved. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins.
 
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