Past Perfect Forms and Uses

Overview

The past perfect (el pluscuamperfecto ), also known as the pluperfect, is a combination of the past participle and the imperfect of the verb haber. The past perfect describes an action in the past that happened before another action in the past. There are three other perfect tenses in the indicative: present perfect, preterite perfect, future perfect, and the conditional perfect.

Past Perfect

The past perfect describes what a person "had" done 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 imperfect tense) and the past participle.

Past Perfect Formula

Había visto ya a mi primo.
I had already seen my cousin.
 
Habías cantado en la fiesta cuando llegué.
You had already sang at the party when I arrived.
 
Usted había leído antes que él.
You had read the book before him.
 
Él había sacado su gorro cuando entró en mi casa.
He had taken off his hat before entering my house.
 
Ella había comido antes de ir al cine.
She had eaten before going to the movies.
 
Nos habíamos sentado cuando el tren salió.
We had sat down when the train left.
 
No habíais oído la canción antes de ahora.
You had not heard the song before now.
 
Ustedes habían vuelto cuando ellos salieron.
You had returned when they left.
 
Ellos habían puesto los pasteles en la mesa.
They had put the cakes on the table.
 
Ellas habían hablado mucho cuando la fiesta terminó.
They had talked a lot when the party ended.
 

Notice that the auxiliary verb (haber) and the past participle are never separated. If object pronouns are present, they go immediately before haber.

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