The term "plus-que-parfait" suggests "more in the past than
the perfect." The tense is used to indicate actions which took place
another action in the past, which is usually (though not always) described
in the perfect (passé composé). However, the plus-que-parfait
always used when one action precedes another; for example,
a list of actions in chronological order may well be put in the
composé alone. Compare these two sentences:
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:
Le réveil a sonné, je me suis levé, et j'ai pris
The alarm rang, I got up, and I had breakfast.
Elle a appris à aimer le chien qui l'avait mordue.
She learned to love the dog that had bitten her.
Sometimes the action the plus-que-parfait precedes will not be explicit,
but will be implied in the sentence:
Quand je suis rentré, j'avais déjà appris la mauvaise
When I got home, I had already heard the bad
Les enfants ont mangé tous les gâteaux que leur père
The children ate all the cookies that their father
The plus-que-parfait is also commonly used in si clauses,
with the past conditional:
Elle avait déjà pensé à cela. She
had already thought of that.
Je ne serais pas venue si j'avais su qu'il était malade.
I would not have come if I had known he was ill.
Note that Recent
past constructions, when used in the imperfect, have the meaning of
Il venait de déjeuner quand je suis arrivée.
had just had lunch when I arrived.
Language Main Page
Orbis Latinus Main
This page is part of Orbis
© Zdravko Batzarov