French Pluperfect – Past Perfect in French

French Pluperfect – Past Perfect in French: le Plus-que-parfait

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The Pluperfect tense describes a state or an event occurring before another past event:

In English:

The preterit of the auxiliary verb + the past participle

– I had eaten before you came,
The first part of the sentence occurred before the second part

In French:

The preterit of the auxiliary verb + the past participle

However there are two auxiliary verbs in French: to have and to be, so you need to know the preterit forms of these verbs.

Avoir:
J’avais
Tu avais
Il, elle, on avait
Nous avions
Vous aviez
Ils, elles avaient

Être:
J’étais
Tu étais
Il, elle, on, était
Nous étions
Vous étiez
Ils, elles étaient

We also use the verb être with reflexive verbs.

I had eaten when you came: J’avais mangé quand tu es venu
(pluperfect in the first part and passé composé in the second)

The use of the auxiliary verbs follows the same rule as for the passé composé.

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Pascal Dherve

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