French Plus-Que-Parfait Tense

CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE FOR MY FULL COURSE ON THE PLUS-QUE-PARFAIT

👇 Scroll down to watch Jennifer’s lesson on the plus-que-parfait 👇

Practice and master forming the plus-que-parfait with this Quizlet study set

Use the French PLUS-QUE-PARFAIT tense when you want to say that an action happened at some point in the past and it happened before something else did. In this lesson all of my examples will be short and simple so that you can really focus on this new French tense rather than a lot of unfamiliar vocabulary. In English, this tense is called the PAST PERFECT or PLUPERFECT.

Included in this lesson:

6 examples using the plus-que-parfait with AVOIR as helping verb
6 examples using the plus-que-parfait with AVOIR + NEGATION
6 examples using the plus-que-parfait with AVOIR and the adverbs DÉJÀ and BIEN
Formation of the plus-que-parfait with AVOIR as helping verb
6 examples using the plus-que-parfait with ĂŠTRE as helping verb
6 examples using the plus-que-parfait with ĂŠTRE + NEGATION
6 examples using the plus-que-parfait with REFLEXIVE VERBS + DÉJÀ and BIEN
Formation of the plus-que-parfait with ĂŠTRE as helping verb

Plus-que-parfait with AVOIR as helping verb

Here are some examples of actions that happened before something else did. It is important to understand when to use the plus-que-parfait before we begin to look at how to form it.

J’avais fini.I had finished.
Tu avais parlé.You had spoken.
Il avait répondu.He had responded.
Nous avions choisi.We had chosen.
Vous aviez mangé.You had eaten.
Ils avaient attendu.They had waited.

Plus-que-parfait with AVOIR + NEGATION

Je n’avais pas mangé.I had not eaten.
Tu n’avais pas appris tes leçons.You had not learned your lessons.
Elle n’avait pas gagné d’argent.She had not earned any money.
Nous n’avions pas rangé la cuisine.We had not cleaned up the kitchen.
Vous n’aviez pas acheté de lait.You had not bought any milk.
Ils n’avaient pas fait leur lit.They had not made their bed.

Notice in the English translations you see the word HAD followed by the past participle. That’s a good thing to remember when trying to decide whether you should use the passé composé or the plus-que-parfait.

Plus-que-parfait with AVOIR and the adverbs DÉJÀ and BIEN

J’avais DÉJÀ vendu ma voiture.I had already sold my car.
Tu avais DÉJÀ sorti le fromage.You had already taken out the cheese.
Il avait DÉJÀ donné son avis.He had already given his opinion.
Nous avions BIEN compris la leçon.We understood the lesson well.
Vous aviez BIEN lavé les légumes.You had washed the vegetables well.
Ils avaient BIEN fait leurs devoirs.They had done their homework well.

The adverbs DÉJÀ and BIEN are often used with the plus-que-parfait. Note that they are placed after the first conjugated verb which in this case is the helping verb AVOIR.

Formation of the plus-que-parfait with AVOIR as helping verb

Once you know the passé composé and imperfect tenses the actual formation of the plus-que-parfait is a breeze. All you need to do is put the helping verb AVOIR in the imperfect tense and then follow it with a past participle.

Here’s a chart of the verb AVOIR in the imperfect. Remember, this will be your helping verb in the plus-que-parfait.

j’avaisnous avions
tu avaisvous aviez
il avaitils avaient

Let’s use regular -ER, -IR and -RE verbs as examples.

SUBJECT PRONOUN AND INFINITIVE OF THE VERBHELPING VERB IN THE IMPERFECTPAST PARTICIPLE
JE – REGARDERJ’AVAISREGARDÉ
TU – PARLERTU AVAISPARLÉ
IL – ÉTABLIRIL AVAITÉTABLI
NOUS – GROSSIRNOUS AVIONSGROSSI
VOUS – ENTENDREVOUS AVIEZENTENDU
ILS – PERDREILS AVAIENTPERDU

Plus-que-parfait with ĂŠTRE as helping verb

J’étais rentré(e)I had gone home
Tu Ă©tais sorti(e)You had gone out
Il Ă©tait mortHe had died
Nous Ă©tions revenu(e)sWe had come back
Vous Ă©tiez parti(e)(s)You had left
Ils étaient tombésThey had fallen

Even though the helping verb is ĂŠTRE we still translate it as HAD in English.

Plus-que-parfait with ĂŠTRE + NEGATION

Je n’étais pas devenu(e) actrice.I had not become an actress.
Tu n’étais pas resté(e) longtemps.You had not stayed a long time.
Il n’était pas monté.He had not gone upstairs.
Nous n’étions pas passé(e)s chez eux.We had not stopped by their house.
Vous n’étiez pas arrivé(e)(s) early.You had not arrived early.
Ils n’étaient pas entrés dans la salle.They had not entered the room.

REFLEXIVE and RECIPROCAL VERBS + DÉJÀ and BIEN

All French reflexive verbs use ÊTRE as helping verb in the passé composé so you need to also use ÊTRE in the plus-que-parfait.

Je m’étais déjà couché(e).I had already gone to bed.
Tu t’étais bien lavé les cheveux.You had washed your hair well.
Il s’était déjà regardé dans la glace.He had already looked at himself in the mirror.
Nous nous étions bien lavé les mains.We had washed our hands well.
Vous vous étiez déjà rencontré(e)s.You had already met each other.
Ils s’étaient bien coupé les ongles.He had cut his fingernails well.

Formation of the plus-que-parfait with ĂŠTRE as helping verb

All you need to do is put the helping verb ĂŠTRE in the imperfect tense and then follow it with a past participle.

Here’s a chart of the verb ÊTRE in the imperfect. Remember, this will be your helping verb in the plus-que-parfait.

j’étaisnous étions
tu Ă©taisvous Ă©tiez
il Ă©taitils Ă©taient

Let’s use some DRMRSPVANDERTRAMP verbs as examples.

SUBJECT PRONOUN AND INFINITIVE OF THE VERBHELPING VERB IN THE IMPERFECTPAST PARTICIPLE
JE – VENIRJ’ÉTAISVENU(E)
TU – DESCENDRETU ÉTAISDESCENDU(E)
IL – ALLERIL ÉTAITALLÉ
NOUS – RETOURNERNOUS ÉTIONSRETOURNÉ(E)(S)
VOUS – RESTERVOUS ÉTIEZRESTÉ(E)(S)
ILS – SORTIRILS ÉTAIENTSORTIS

Preview(opens in a new tab)

%d bloggers like this: