Overview

The preterit perfect (el pretérito anterior), while uncommon, is a combination of the past participle and the preterit of the verb haber. It is primarily used in formal or literary occasions and is included as a reference here for recognition purposes. The preterit perfect describes an action in the past that happened immediately before another action in the past. There are four other perfect tenses in the indicative: present perfect, future perfect, past perfect, and the conditional perfect.

Preterit Perfect

The past perfect describes what a person "had" done immediately before something else happened in the past. Notice that tener is not used even though it means "to have." It is formed by combining haber (conjugated to the preterit tense) and the past participle.

Past Perfect Formula

preterit haber + past participle

  • En cuanto yo hube visto mi primo, salió. (As soon as I had seen my cousin, he left.)
  • Cuando tú hubiste llegado en la fiesta, cantamos la can (As soon as you had arrived at the party, we sang the song.)
  • Tan pronto usted hubo leído el libro, entendió mi misión. (As soon as you had read the book, you understood my mission.)
  • Cuando él lo hubo estudiado mejor, decidí participar en la discusión. (When he had studied it better, he decided to participate in the discussion.)
  • Él hubo sacado su gorro cuando entró en mi casa. (He had taken out his hat when he entered my house.)
  • Cuando ella hubo salido, empecé a llorar. (When she had left, I began to cry.)
  • Después de nosotros hubimos comido, sirvió el postre. (After we had eaten, he served dessert.)
  • Apenas vosotros hubisteis terminado cuando sonó el timbre. (You had just finished when the bell rang.)
  • Tan pronto ustedes nos hubieron llamado, salimos de la oficina. (As soon as you had called us, we left.)
  • Ellos hubieron cerrado la tienda cuando llegamos. (They had closed the store when we arrived.)
  • Cuando ellas hubieron terminado de bailar, todos aplaudieron. (When they had finished dancing, everyone applauded.)

Excercises

1) Conjugate each verb in parenthesis to complete the sentences in the preterit perfect (haber + past participle).

Example: Ellos no (salir). -> hubieron salido

  1. Pablo y yo (sacar) muchos fotos.
  2. Selena ya (llegar) cuando llegué yo.
  3. Nunca (ver) yo este monumento antes de ahora.
  4. Antes de Georgia, ella (vivir) en Argentina, Uruguay y Paraguay.
  5. Tú (publicar) antes de te mudaste.

Answers

  1. hubimos sacado
  2. hubo llegado
  3. hube visto
  4. hubo vivido
  5. hubiste publicado