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The past perfect, also called the pluperfect, is a verb tense that distinguishes between two related things that happened in the past, indicating which one occurred before the other. The use of the past perfect is very similar in Spanish and English.
The past perfect is used for the verb that happened first, the one that is further in the past. The action that occurred second is usually stated with another past tense, such as the pretérito or imperfecto.
|El sol ya había empezado a ponerse cuando llegué.||The sun had already started to set when I arrived.|
|Ya había salido (cuando llamaste).||I had already left (when you called).|
|Fui al mercado por la mañana; ya había ido al banco.||I went to the store this morning; I had already gone to the bank.|
The second action may be stated with antes de + infinitive or antes de que + subjunctive, or the verb can even be implied with antes de + noun, as long as that noun refers to something in the past.
|Había terminado todo el trabajo antes de irme.||I had finished all the work before leaving.|
|Me había llamado antés de la fiesta.
(antés de que fuéramos a la fiesta)
|He’d called me before the party.
(before we went to the party)
It’s important to understand that the past perfect is used when there is a relationship between the two verbs: the one in the past perfect led to or had some bearing on the one that came second. If you’re just making a list of two things that occurred, either one after the other or at the same time, you don’t need the past perfect.
|Terminé todo el trabajo y entonces me fui.||I finished all the work, then I left.|
|Lavé la rope y Ana cortó el césped.||I did the laundry and Ana mowed the lawn.|
- Past perfect conjugations
- Pluperfect lessons – PwLS super list
- Haber – auxiliary verb
- Past participle
- Compound tenses
- Introduction to verbs
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