Past Perfect

We use the past perfect tense to talk about something that happened in the past before another thing that happened in the past. For example, “He hadn’t closed the door before leaving.” An action in this tense always has an implied cut-off point—it has already ended, at some point before the other past action. In English, the past perfect is a compound verb formed by using the imperfect tense of “have” with the past participle of the verb. In Spanish, we form it the same way:
“haber” (imperfect tense) + past participle
So, in Spanish, our example sentence would be, “El no había cerrado la puerta antes de salir.”

The past participle doesn’t change according to the subject, so the main thing you have to do to form the past perfect is conjugate “haber.” Let’s take a look:



Subject “Haber” (imperfect tense) Past Participle Translation
yo había preparado I had prepared
habías preparado you had prepared
el/ella había preparado he/she had prepared
nosotros habíamos preparado we had prepared
ustedes/ellos/ellas habían preparado they/you had prepared

I had already eaten by the time he got home.
Ya había comido cuando el lleguó a casa.

I had studied a lot, so I got an A.
Había estudiado mucho, por eso saqué una A.

Had you been to Peru before last summer?
¿Habías visitado Perú antes del verano pasado?

I had never been to Peru.
Nunca había estado en Perú.


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