HomeQ&AThe preterit perfect-When should I use it?

The preterit perfect-When should I use it?


"Hubo una investigación", so my friend told me. Yesterday some shady looking fellows started trading plastic baggies in the park downtown and so I naturally asked what had happened. He answered me with the words that started this paragraph.

Anyways, it got me thinking about the preterit perfect and how I don't know how to use it haha. My personal verb book mentions it's use after certain expression involving time, for instance after 'apenas' but I wanted to know if anyone had real examples of its use in literature.

Thanks it advance.

updated DIC 21, 2010
posted by puravidacanuck

4 Answers


Hi pura, what I can tell you directly forget about this tense, it is so rarely used in Spanish you will hardly find examples.

Hube comido...you will get strange looks if you say thatwink

he comido, había comido, comí,,these are the three tenses we use.

Hubo una investigación.

This is different, here we are talking haber impersonal, that is "hay" in past simple.

updated DIC 21, 2010
posted by 00494d19
Tense already forgotten. Finally, room for cocktail recipes! - puravidacanuck, ABR 27, 2010
Thanks, should this information be added to the reference section to explain why there is not a discourse on this tense, even though the tense is in the conjugation charts. - Stadt, DIC 21, 2010

It comes from the verb "haber." - to have.

Present tense:

Hay - there is, there are Hay un gato en el patio.
There is a cat in the yard.

Hay tres perros en el carro. There are three dogs in the car.

Hubo is the past tense (preterite).

Hubo - there was, there were..

Hubo una investigación.

There was an investigation.

As to examples in literature...hmmmmmmm, sorry, don't know any.

updated ABR 27, 2010
edited by Delores--Lindsey
posted by Delores--Lindsey

In English, we use the past perfect tense in phrases like "I had been driving" or "You had been writing".

Check out this link to a previous thread which discussed the perfect tenses.

updated ABR 27, 2010
edited by danrivera
posted by danrivera

Oh definitely I get the use of the pluperfect. It's the preterit that is confusing me:

Hube ido versus Había ido Hubieron comido versus Habían comido


updated ABR 27, 2010
posted by puravidacanuck
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