Spanish Preterite Perfect Tense

Quick Answer

The preterite perfect tense (el pretérito anterioro el antepretérito) is primarily used formally or literarily (in written texts). It describes an action in the past that happened immediately before another action in the past.


The preterite perfect tense uses the verb haberin the preterite plus a past participle.

Preterite Perfect Formula:

preterite of haber + past participle

Preterite of Haber

In case you don't know it, here is how to form haber in the preterite.

SubjectHaber Conjugation
él, ella, usted
ellos, ellas, ustedes

Examples of the Preterite Perfect

En cuanto hube visto a mi primo, salió.
As soon as I had seen my cousin, he left.
Cuando hubiste llegado a la fiesta, cantamos la canción.
As soon as you had arrived at the party, we sang the song.
Tan pronto Ud. hubo leído el libro, entendió mi misión.
As soon as you had read the book, you understood my mission.
Él hubo sacado su gorro cuando entró en mi casa.
He had taken off his hat when he entered my house.
Cuando hubo salido, empecé a llorar.
When she had left, I began to cry.
Después de que hubimos comido, sirvió el postre.
After we had eaten, he served dessert.
Apenas hubisteis terminado cuando sonó el timbre.
You had just finished when the bell rang.
Tan pronto nos hubieron llamado, salimos de la oficina.
As soon as you had called us, we left the office.
¿La tienda? La hubieron cerrado cuando llegamos.
The store? They had closed it when we arrived.
Cuando hubieron terminado de bailar, todos aplaudieron.
When they had finished dancing, everyone applauded.

Notice that the haber and the past participle are never separated in this tense. If object pronouns are present, they go immediately before haber.