Languages › French The French Past Perfect (Pluperfect): 'Le Plus-Que-Parfait' A Past Action That Preceded Another Past Action Share Flipboard Email Print "Il n'avait pas mangé (avant de faire ses devoirs)." He hadn't eaten (before doing his homework). Daniel Grill / Getty Images French Grammar Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Resources For Teachers by ThoughtCo Updated January 28, 2019 The French past perfect, or pluperfect—known in French as le plus-que-parfait—is used to indicate an action in the past that occurred before another action in the past. The latter use can be either mentioned in the same sentence or implied. 'Le Plus-Que-Parfait' The plus‐que‐parfait is the compound form of the imparfait (imperfect) and is formed by using the imperfect of the appropriate helping verb, avoir or être (have or be) and the participe passé (past participle) of the verb. Its English equivalent is “had” and the past participle. The table provides some example; for clarity, the prior action is listed in parentheses in some cases. French Pluperfect English Translation Il n'avait pas mangé (avant de faire ses devoirs). He hadn't eaten (before doing his homework). J'ai fait du shopping ce matin. J'avais déjà fait la lessive. I went shopping this morning. I had already done the laundry. J'étais déjà sorti (quand tu as téléphoné). I had already left (when you called). Nous voulions te parler parce que nous ne t'avions pas vu hier. We wanted to talk to you because we didn't see you yesterday. Expressing Hypotheticals The pluperfect is also used in si clauses to express a hypothetical situation in the past contrary to what actually happened. Si clauses or conditionals produce conditional sentences, with one clause stating a condition or possibility and a second clause naming a result produced by that condition. In English, such sentences are called "if/then" constructions. The French si means "if" in English. There is no equivalent for "then" per se in French conditional sentences. French Pluperfect With Si Clause English Translation Si tu m'avais demandé, j'aurais répondu. If you had asked me, I would have answered. Nous y serions allés si nous avions su. We would have gone if we had known. Other Plus-Que-Parfait Information The French past perfect is a compound conjugation, which means it has two parts: Imperfect of the auxiliary verb (either avoir or être)Past participle of the main verb Like all French compound conjugations, the past perfect may be subject to grammatical agreement, as follows: When the auxiliary verb is être, the past participle must agree with the subject.When the auxiliary verb is avoir, the past participle may have to agree with its direct object. French Past Perfect Conjugations Conjugating the French le plus-que-parfait (the past perfect or pluperfect) requires knowing when to use avoir, être, or a pronominal, as the table demonstrates for the verbs aimer (to love), devenir (to become), and lavar (to wash). Aimer (auxiliary verb is avoir) j' avais aimé tu avais aimé il,elle avait aimé nous avions aimé vous aviez aimé ils,elles avaient aimé Devenir (être verb) j' étais devenu(e) tu étais devenu(e) il était devenu nous étions devenu(e)s vous étiez devenu(e)(s) ils étaient devenus elle était devenue elles étaient devenues Se Laver (pronominal verb) je m'étais lavé(e) tu t'étais lavé(e) il s'était lavé ils s'étaient lavés nous nous étions lavé(e)s vous vous étiez lavé(e)(s) elle s'était lavée elles s'étaient lavées French pronominal verbs are accompanied by the reflexive pronoun se or s' preceding the infinitive, hence the grammatical term "pronominal," which means "relating to a pronoun." All conjugated verbs, with the exception of the imperative form, require a subject pronoun. Continue Reading How to Use the French Past Subjunctive 'Passé Anterieur' (Anterior Past): An Important French Literary Tense Passé composé: French Compound Past Tense Learn How to Use the French Future Perfect French Pluperfect or Past Subjunctive Tense Is Spanish Really Easier Than French? How to Conjugate the French Verb "Rendre" Is the French Past Conditional Conditional Perfect? Introduction to the French Perfect Participle The French Verb "Donner" Has a Lot "To Give" Get the Skinny on Conjugating "Maigrir" (to Lose Weight) in French You "Must" Learn How to Conjugate Devoir Learn How to Conjugate the French Irregular Verb Venir Understanding the French Past Infinitive How Is "Détruire" (to Destroy) Conjugated in French? How Do I Conjugate the French Imperfect Tense?