The pluperfect tense

The Spanish pluperfect tense describes a past action that happened before another past action. In other words, it is used to say what someone or something had done. For example:

  • Ella había llamado antes de visitar (She had called before visiting).
  • Nos habíamos acostado después de terminar nuestros deberes (We had gone to bed after finishing our homework).
  • En el pasado habíamos jugado muy bien (In the past, we had played very well).

Like the perfect tense, the pluperfect tense has two parts that are never separated:

  1. The imperfect tense of the verb haber
  2. The past participle
imperfect tense of haberpast participle

The past participle is the equivalent of the English verb form ending in -ed and -en, eg watched, played, visited, eaten, spoken. It is formed by removing the -ar, -er or -ir from the infinitive and adding these endings:

-ar verbs → -ado

-er verbs → -ido

-ir verbs → -ido

Some verbs have irregular past participles. For example:

decir (to say) → dicho

escribir (to write) → escrito

hacer (to make/do) → hecho

ver (to see) → visto


Complete the following sentences with the correct form of the pluperfect tense.

  1. Ricardo no __________ _______________ (viajar) mucho durante su vida.
  2. Nosotros no __________ _______________ (hacer) muchas actividades.
  3. Ellos __________ _______________ (soñar) con ser futbolistas profesionales.
  4. Yo siempre __________ _______________ (querer) ser abogado.
  1. Ricardo no había viajado mucho durante su vida (Ricardo had not travelled much during his life).
  2. Nosotros no habíamos hecho muchas actividades (We had not done many activities).
  3. Ellos habían soñado con ser futbolistas profesionales (They had dreamed of being professional footballers).
  4. Yo siempre había querido ser abogado (I had always wanted to be a lawyer).