Lesson 19 – The Pluperfect Tense

Leçon 19 – Plus-que-parfait

The pluperfect tense is formed by using the imperfect of the auxiliary verb (avoir or être) + the past participle.

The pluperfect corresponds in meaning to the English pluperfect: “I had done/I had been doing”; it refers to an action which happened at a point in the past earlier than that referred to by the previous verb in the past. French always uses the pluperfect to denote the appropriate time sequence.

Here are some examples:

Prendre (use with avoir)

  • J’avais pris – I had taken
  • Tu avais pris – You had taken
  • Il/Elle avait pris – He/She had taken
  • Nous avions pris – We had taken
  • Vous aviez pris – You had taken
  • Ils/Elles avaient pris – They had taken

Tomber (use with être)

  • J’étais tombé(e) – I had fallen
  • Tu étais tombé(e) – You had fallen
  • Il/Elle était tombé/e – He/She had fallen
  • Nous étions tombés/es – We had fallen
  • Vous étiez tombé/e/s/es – You had fallen
  • Ils/Elles étaient tombés/es – They had fallen


Here are some sentence samples using the pluperfect:

  • Je n’avais jamais été en Europe.
  • I had never been to Europe.
  • Elle était partie avant leur arrivée.
  • She had left before their arrival.


Have a great week!

Merci à vous !



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