Pluperfect (Plus-que-Parfait)
The term "plus-que-parfait" suggests "more in the past than the perfect." The tense is used to indicate actions which took place before another action in the past, which is usually (though not always) described in the perfect (passé composé). However, the plus-que-parfait is not always used when one action precedes another; for example, a list of actions in chronological order may well be put in the passé composé alone. Compare these two sentences:
  1. Le réveil a sonné, je me suis levé, et j'ai pris mon déjeuner.

  2. The alarm rang, I got up, and I had breakfast.
  3. Elle a appris à aimer le chien qui l'avait mordue.

  4. She learned to love the dog that had bitten her.
In both sentences certain actions precede others; however, only the second sentence seeks to emphasize the precedence of one action. The plus-que-parfait is used when the speaker needs to position one action with respect to another. Frequently its use will be signaled by adverbs (such as déjà) which can heighten the sense of opposition between actions: Sometimes the action the plus-que-parfait precedes will not be explicit, but will be implied in the sentence: The plus-que-parfait is also commonly used in si clauses, with the past conditional: See Si-Constructions.

Note that Recent past constructions, when used in the imperfect, have the meaning of a pluperfect:

See also:


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