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9.1.26: G.7.3- Past Perfect (el pasado perfecto)

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    To form the past perfect, conjugate the verb haber in the imperfect + past participle.

    haber hablar comer vivir
    yo había hablado comido vivido
    él/ella/Ud. había
    nosotros/as habíamos
    vosotros/as habíais
    ellos/ellas/Uds. habían

    The past perfect is used to indicate that an action was completed before another action or state in the past. It is commonly used with expressions like ya (already), antes (before), nunca (never), todavía (still) and después (after).


    Cuando llegaron los estudiantes, la clase ya había comenzado.
    When the students arrived, class had already started.

    Yo me había preparado bien antes de asistir a clase ayer.
    I had prepared well before attending class yesterday.

    It is not necessary to explicitly express that the action in the past was completed before a previous action.


    Jorge había cenado antes de llegar a la fiesta. (explicit)
    Jorge had eaten before arriving at the party.

    Jorge había cenado. (implicit)
    Jorge had eaten.

    The verb haber and the past participle are never separated. It is possible to separate them in English, but never in Spanish regardless of the context.

    1. When the phrase is negative, “no” is placed before “haber”:
      Emilio no había cenado antes de llegar a la fiesta.
      Emilio had not eaten before arriving at the party.
    2. When an adverb is used for emphasis, it is placed before “haber”:
      Nunca había probado
      el pulpo antes de ir a España.
      I had never tried octopus before going to Spain.
    3. When the sentence has a direct or indirect object pronoun, it is placed before “haber”:
      Pablo le había dado mucho dinero a su hermana.
      Pablo had given a lot of money to his sister.

      Los estudiantes los habían leído antes del debate en clase. (los=los artículos)
      The students had read them before the debate in class.
    4. When the sentence has a reflexive verb, it is placed before “haber”:
      Nos habíamos lavado
      las manos antes de jugar con el bebé.
      We had washed our hands before playing with the baby.
    5. When it is a question, the subject is placed after the participle:
      ¿Habían estudiado los estudiantes antes de tomar el examen?
      Had the students studied before taking the test?

    In Acceso Hub: Forma y Función (LingroLearning) you will find input and output activities to practice this structure.

    This page titled 9.1.26: G.7.3- Past Perfect (el pasado perfecto) is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by KU Open Language Resource Center via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.