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The Pluperfect Tense

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Infographics of The Pluperfect Tense

Meaning of the Pluperfect

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Known in Spanish as "el pretérito pluscuamperfecto", the pluperfect tense consists of a verbal tense whose objective is to give knowledge about a topic, fact or event that occurred or was true at a certain time in the past. When we have a conversation based on past events, it is common to use "había" accompanied by a past participle, such as "comido, reído and jugado" to meet the standards of this verb tense.

Let us see in the following table how we must combine the imperfect tense of "haber" with the past participle of any verb, in this way the pluperfect tense is born.
  • María no durmió bien anoche porque había cenado mucho. =Maria did not sleep well last night because she had eaten too much.

  • Mi tío estaba enojado porque había perdido las llaves de su auto. =My uncle was angry because he had lost his car keys.

  • Tú reprobaste el examen de geografía porque no habías estudiado lo suficiente. =You failed the geography exam because you hadn't studied enough.

  • Cuando el policía llegó, el ladrón ya había tomado las cosas y había huido con todo. =When the policeman arrived, the thief had already taken the things and fled with everything.

  • Cuando hablé con Juliana ayer, todavía no sabía que ya había dado a luz hace unas semanas. =When I talked to Juliana yesterday, she still didn't know she had given birth a few weeks ago.

  • Anoche cuando te serví la comida no sabía que ya habías cenado. =Last night when I served you the food I didn't know that you had already had dinner.

Examples of Pluperfect Tense

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  • Mi abuela estaba contenta porque había recibido un regalo. =My grandmother was happy because she had received a gift.

  • Magdalena estaba furiosa porque David no le había sido fiel. =Magdalena was furious because David had not been faithful to her.

  • Marcos no le había dicho la verdad, porque ya sabía que las intenciones de ella no habían sido deshonestas. =Mark had not told her the truth, because he already knew that her intentions had not been dishonest.

  • Cuando hablamos ayer, yo ya sabía que algo había ocurrido. =When we spoke yesterday, I already knew something had happened.

  • En la mañana la estuve esperando aunque ya había escuchado que no vendría ese día. =In the morning I waited for her even though I had already heard that she would not come that day.

Different perfect construction

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As we could already see the plusperfect, in a simple way we can say that it is the past of a past, in other words, it is the event previous to a moment already passed.

It is also important to emphasize that "había, habías, habían, habíamos and habíais" should never be separated from the past participle
  • Cuando el mensaje llegó, yo ya había dado la orden y no había vuelta atrás. =When the message came, I had already given the order and there was no turning back.

  • Ayer he desayunado pan con avena; he ido al gimnasio a las ocho y me he ejercitado hasta las nueve. =Yesterday I had bread and oatmeal for breakfast; I went to the gym at eight and worked out until nine.

  • Anoche me han contado una historia; quedé deslumbrado con el desenlace pero había algo extraño con el protagonista. =Last night I was told a story; I was dazzled by the outcome but there was something strange about the protagonist.

  • Escuché que te gustaba cantar bajo la lluvia pero que ya no lo hacías porque alguien te robó la voz. =I heard that you liked to sing in the rain but that you didn't do it anymore because someone stole your voice.

Related Lessons in Expert Course, to further your understanding.

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The Passive

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Impersonal Verbs

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The Subjunctive

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The Infinitive

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