Spend a unique school year abroadLearn more »
Le plus-que-parfait or the past perfect indicative is a verb tense used to describe a past action prior to another action also past. It is usually formed by using the imperfect of the auxiliary "avoir" or "être" followed by the past participle of the main verb. It is used to express a timeline in the past, showing which action happened first. It is often used with other verb tenses to tell stories, describe past experiences, or talk about regrets.
The past perfect of the indicative is used mainly in the following cases:
Past tense story : It is commonly used in stories to describe a past action that happened before another also past action. It allows events to be placed chronologically. For example: "Quand je suis arrivé à la gare, le train était déjà parti." (When I arrived at the station, the train had already left.)
Anteriority in the past : The past perfect is used to indicate that an action occurred before another past event. For example: "J'avais déjà mangé avant de sortir avec mes amis." (I had already eaten before going out with my friends.")
Regret or unfulfilled assumption in the past : We can also use the past perfect to express regrets or unfulfilled assumptions in the past. For example:"Si j'avais su, j'aurais agi différemment." (If I had known, I would have acted differently.)
Description of past habits : The past perfect can also be used to describe habitual actions or situations in the past. For example: "Quand j'étais enfant, je jouais souvent au parc."(When I was a child, I often played in the park.)
Indirect relation to the past : When we report words or thoughts to the past, the past perfect can be used. For example:"Il m'a dit qu'il avait déjà fini son travail." (He told me that he had already finished his work.")
The past perfect of the indicative is generally formed by using the imperfect of the auxiliary "avoir" or "être" followed by the past participle of the main verb.
Here are the formations of the past perfect indicative for regular verbs:
|With the auxiliary "avoir" :||With the auxiliary "être" :|
Le participe passé or the past participle of regular verbs is usually formed by adding the endings "-é", "-i", or "-u" to the verbs of the first group, the second group and the third group respectively.
It is important to note that some irregular verbs have specific past participles that must be memorized individually . Below you will find some examples of irregular verbs.
Here are some examples of the formation of the past perfect of the indicative:
- Verbe "parler" : J'avais parlé, tu avais parlé, il avait parlé, nous avions parlé, vous aviez parlé, ils avaient parlé.
- (Verb "to speak": I had spoken, you had spoken, he had spoken, we had spoken, you had spoken, they had spoken.)
- Verbe "aller" : J'étais allé(e), tu étais allé(e), il était allé, nous étions allé(e)s, vous étiez allé(e)s, ils étaient allés.
- (Verb "to go": I had gone, you had gone, he had gone, we had gone, you had gone, they had gone.)
- Verbe "vivre" : J'avais vécu, tu avais vécu, il avait vécu, nous avions vécu, vous aviez vécu, ils avaient vécu.
- (Verb "to live": I had lived, you had lived, he had lived, we had lived, you had lived, they had lived.)
These examples illustrate the formation of the past perfect indicative for different types of verbs. It should be noted that irregular verbs can have particular conjugations.
Here is a list of some irregular verbs in the past perfect indicative:
Être : j'avais été, tu avais été, il/elle avait été, nous avions été, vous aviez été, ils/elles avaient été (I had been, you had been, he/she/it had been, we had been, you had been, they had been)
Avoir : j'avais eu, tu avais eu, il/elle avait eu, nous avions eu, vous aviez eu, ils/elles avaient eu (I had, you had, he/she/it had had, we had had, you had had, they had had)
Aller : j'étais allé(e), tu étais allé(e), il/elle était allé(e), nous étions allé(e)s, vous étiez allé(e)s, ils/elles étaient allé(e)s (I had gone, you had gone, he/she had gone, we had gone, you had gone, they had gone)
Faire : j'avais fait, tu avais fait, il/elle avait fait, nous avions fait, vous aviez fait, ils/elles avaient fait ( I had done, you had done, he/she/it had done, we had done, you had done, they had done)
Dire : j'avais dit, tu avais dit, il/elle avait dit, nous avions dit, vous aviez dit, ils/elles avaient dit (I said, you said, he/she/it said, we said, you said, they said)
Voir : j'avais vu, tu avais vu, il/elle avait vu, nous avions vu, vous aviez vu, ils/elles avaient vu (I had seen, you had seen, he/she/it had seen, we had seen, you had seen, they had seen)
Prendre : j'avais pris, tu avais pris, il/elle avait pris, nous avions pris, vous aviez pris, ils/elles avaient pris (I took, you took, he/she/it took, we took, you took, they took)
Pouvoir : j'avais pu, tu avais pu, il/elle avait pu, nous avions pu, vous aviez pu, ils/elles avaient pu (I could, you could, he/she/it could, we could, you could, they could)
Savoir : j'avais su, tu avais su, il/elle avait su, nous avions su, vous aviez su, ils/elles avaient su (I had known, you had known, he/she/it had known, we had known, you had known, they had known)
Devoir : j'avais dû, tu avais dû, il/elle avait dû, nous avions dû, vous aviez dû, ils/elles avaient dû ( I had to, you had to, he/she/it had to, we had to, you had to, they had to)
It should be noted that this list is not exhaustive and that there are other irregular verbs in French. It is important to consult a complete list of irregular verbs to get an overview.