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French Pluperfect Tense – Le plus-que-parfait

French Pluperfect Tense – Le plus-que-parfait

What is the plus-que-parfait in French?

In French, the “plus-que-parfait” or pluperfect tense is used to indicate actions that occurred prior to other past actions. It would equate to “had happened” in English. For example, “Je n’ai pas mangé à 18h00 parcé que j’avais dejà mange à 16h00” (I didn’t eat at 6pm because I’d already eaten at 4pm).

French pluperfect (plus-que-parfait)

For verbs conjugated avoir (to have) in the passé composé, it’s formed by combining avoir in the imparfait with the past participle. For verbs formed with être in the passé composé, use the imparfait of être.

Pluperfect conjugation endings

Parler (to speak) - had spoken
j'avais parlé
tu avais parlé
il avait parlé
nous avions parlé
vous aviez parlé
ils avaient parlé
Arriver (to arrive) - had arrived
j'étais arrivé(e)
tu étais arrivé(e)
il/elle était arrivé(e)
nous étions arrivé(e)s
vous étiez arrivé(e)(s)
ils étaient arrivé(e)s
Se lever (to get up) - had gotten up
je m'étais levé(e)
tu t'étais levé(e)
il/elle s'était levé(e)
nous nous étions levé(e)s
vous vous étiez levé(e)(s)
ils s'étaient levé(e)s

Sample sentences using the French pluperfect

The best way to get a sense of how to use the French plus-que-parfait is by going through some example sentences.

  • Cet hiver, j’ai visité la France. L’année dernière, j’avais visité l’Italie. This winter I visited France. Last winter I’d visited Italy.
  • Quand je suis arrivé au cinéma, le film avait déjà commencé. When I got the movies the movie had already started.
  • Aujourd’hui je me suis promené en ville. Hier, je m’étais promené dans la campagne. Today I took a walk downtown. Yesterday I’d taken a walk in the countryside.
  • Quand papa est entré dans la cuisine, maman avait deja préparé le repas. When dad entered the kitchen, mom had already made the meal.
French plus-que-parfait example
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David Issokson
David Issokson is a lifelong language learner and speaks over seven languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private lessons. When not teaching or writing his French Word of the Day lessons, David enjoys his time skiing, hiking and mountain biking in Victor, Idaho.

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language learner and speaks over seven languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private lessons. When not teaching or writing his French Word of the Day lessons, David enjoys his time skiing, hiking and mountain biking in Victor, Idaho.

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