Spanish Past Perfect Subjunctive

Welcome to our grammar lesson about the Spanish Past Perfect Subjunctive, also called Pluperfect Subjunctive (“Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto del Subjuntivo”).

A couple of sentences with verbs in Spanish Past Perfect Subjunctive
A couple of sentences with verbs in Past Perfect Subjunctive (in green)

This lesson will teach you everything about this tense: how to conjugate verbs and how to use it, providing example sentences.

At the end you’ll find a Quiz and Exercises for practice.

Conjugation of verbs in Past Perfect Subjunctive

The formula to construct the Past Perfect Subjunctive consists of 2 words:

  • The first word is the verb haber in Imperfect Subjunctive. Because there are 2 ways of conjugating “haber” in Imperfect Subjunctive, we can choose between the following 2 sets of forms:
    hubiera, hubieras, hubiera, hubiéramos, hubierais, hubieran
    hubiese, hubieses, hubiese, hubiésemos, hubieseis, hubiesen
  • The second word is the Past Participle of the verb expressing the action. The Past Participle is the same for all persons.


As an example, here’s the full conjugation of “cantar”, which has a regular Past Participle:

 Conjugation of "cantar" with "hubiera..."Conjugation of "cantar" with "hubiese..."
yohubiera cantadohubiese cantado
hubieras cantadohubieses cantado
élhubiera cantadohubiese cantado
nosotroshubiéramos cantadohubiésemos cantado
vosotroshubierais cantadohubieseis cantado
elloshubieran cantadohubiesen cantado


And here is the conjugation of “hacer”, which has an irregular Past Participle:

 Conjugation of "hacer" with "hubiera..."Conjugation of "hacer" with "hubiese..."
yohubiera hechohubiese hecho
hubieras hecho hubieses hecho
élhubiera hechohubiese hecho
nosotroshubiéramos hechohubiésemos hecho
vosotroshubierais hechohubieseis hecho
elloshubieran hechohubiesen hecho

Remember…

The Past Participle of regular verbs in -ar ends in -ado.
The Past Participle of regular verbs in -er and -ir ends in -ido.

Some verbs have an irregular Past Participle. The most frequent irregulars are:

hacer → hecho
decir → dicho
ver → visto
escribir → escrito
romper → roto
poner → puesto
volver → vuelto
resolver → resuelto
satisfacer → satisfecho
descubrir → descubierto
morir → muerto

Click here to learn more about the Past Participle.

Uses of the Past Perfect Subjunctive

Here are the most frequent types of sentences where we use the Past Perfect Subjunctive:

a) After “ojalá” or “ojalá que”, when we express a regret about something that can’t be fulfilled anymore:

Ojalá te hubiera conocido antes.
I wish I had met you sooner.


b) As the unfulfilled condition of something else that could have happened, but didn’t.

The unfulfilled condition (introduced by “si…”) is expressed in Past Perfect Subjunctive, and the something else that could have happened is either in Conditional or in Conditional Perfect:

Si hubiéramos hecho las tareas, habríamos impresionado a nuestro profesor.
If we had done the homework, we would have impressed our teacher.

Marta habría organizado la fiesta si hubiese tenido tiempo.
Marta would have organized the party if she had had time.


c) Expressing doubts or disbelief someone had in the past, about an action that is even further in the past. The action further in the past is the one we usually express in Past Perfect Subjunctive:

Yo dudaba que ellos hubiesen reservado el hotel.
I doubted that they had booked the hotel.

Ana no podía creer que su novio hubiera comprado un coche.
Ana couldn’t believe her boyfriend had bought a car.


d) After “como si…”, which means “as if…”, referring to an imagined past action:

Me siento como si hubiera comido una vaca entera.
I feel as if I had eaten a whole cow.

Practice

Quiz

Take this Quiz about the Past Perfect Subjunctive:


Exercise 1

Conjugate the following verbs in Past Perfect Subjunctive for the given person.

There are always 2 possible solutions, depending on whether we choose the “hubiera” or “hubiese” forms:

1) yo ___ (trabajar)
2) tú ___ (comprender)
3) él ___ (pensar)
4) nosotros ___ (sentir)
5) vosotros ___ (repetir)
6) ellos ___ (contar)
7) yo ___ (dormir)
8) tú ___ (hacer)
9) él ___ (romper)
10) nosotros ___ (ver)
11) vosotros ___ (volver)
12) ellos ___ (descubrir)

Solutions:
1) hubiera trabajado / hubiese trabajado
2) hubieras comprendido / hubieses comprendido
3) hubiera pensado / hubiese pensado
4) hubiéramos sentido / hubiésemos sentido
5) hubierais repetido / hubieseis repetido
6) hubieran contado / hubiesen contado
7) hubiera dormido / hubiese dormido
8) hubieras hecho / hubieses hecho
9) hubiera roto / hubiese roto
10) hubiéramos visto / hubiésemos visto
11) hubierais vuelto / hubieseis vuelto
12) hubieran descubierto / hubiesen descubierto


Exercise 2

Fill the gaps using the Past Perfect Subjunctive of the verbs in brackets.

There are always 2 possible solutions, depending on whether we choose the “hubiera” or “hubiese” forms:

1) Ojalá yo ___ (ser) más amable con ellos.
I wish I had been kinder to them.

2) Si tú ___ (comprar) un móvil, podrías llamarme.
If you had bought a cell phone, you could call me.

3) Yo nunca creí que vosotros ___ (robar) el coche.
I never believed that you guys would have stolen the car.

4) Ellos hablan español como si ___ (crecer) en España.
They speak Spanish as if they had grown up in Spain.

Solutions:
1) hubiera sido / hubiese sido
2) hubieras comprado / hubieses comprado
3) hubierais robado / hubieseis robado
4) hubieran crecido / hubiesen crecido

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