Spanish Past Perfect Tense (Pluperfect)

The Past Perfect, also known as Pluperfect (or, in Spanish, “Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto”) is a tense we use to talk about an action or event that HAD already HAPPENED by the time another action occurred in the past.

In this post we will go through these points:

  1. Conjugation
  2. Use


1. Conjugation

The Past Perfect is built with 2 words:

– The first word is the verb “haber” conjugated in Imperfect tense, for the proper person.

– The second word is the Past Participle of our main verb:

yohabía... + Participle of the main verb

If you haven’t yet learned how to form the Past Participle of a given verb, we explained that in our post about the Present Perfect, another tense that also uses the Past Participle. Click here if you need to learn how to form the Past Participle.


Examples of Verbs fully conjugated in Past Perfect

The verb “bailar“:

yohabía bailado
habías bailado
élhabía bailado
nosotroshabíamos bailado
vosotroshabíais bailado
elloshabían bailado

The verb “comer”:

yohabía comido
habías comido
élhabía comido
nosotroshabíamos comido
vosotroshabíais comido
elloshabían comido


2. Use

As already stated, the Past Perfect is used to talk about an action that HAD already HAPPENED by the time another action occurred in the past.

Here are some examples:

Cuando Ana llegó, sus amigos se habían ido. = When Ana arrived, her friends had left.

Antonio ya había estudiado la lección y se la explicó a sus compañeros. = Antonio had already studied the lesson and he explained it to his classmates.

Luisa vio el regalo que sus padres le habían comprado. = Luisa saw the present that her parents had bought her.

¡Pensé que ya te habían contado la historia! = I thought they had already told you the story!

Llegó la hora y aún no habíamos preparado nada = The time came and wed had not prepared anything yet.


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