B1 - Intermediate
3 of 4

The pluperfect

The pluperfect (or past perfect)

Learning Objectives 

  • Know how to form the pluperfect
  • Know when to use the pluperfect
  • Be able to use different past tenses in the same sentence
baselang banner

Key Words & Phrases

Je m’étais trompé d’heure : j’étais quatre heures à l’avance !

Je suis allé au Canada cette année. Je n’étais jamais allé au Canada avant.

J’ai regardé un film hier soir. Je l’avais déjà vu.

J’avais à peine terminé le premier projet que je commençais le deuxième.

Nous avions déjà visité ce musée.

Je n’avais jamais eu la grippe avant cette semaine.

Useful adverbs

À peine




the pluperfect

the pluperfect

the pluperfect

Carleton: the pluperfect

Lingolia: the pluperfect

Lawless French: using the pluperfect

Lawless French: forming the pluperfect


You Learn French: the pluperfect

Learn French with Elsa: the pluperfect

Cours de français – Jonathan Vangrootloon: the pluperfect


Le FLE pour les curieux: expressing anteriority with the pluperfect

BBC Bitesize: using the pluperfect

About France: the imperfect VS the pluperfect


Lingolia: practice the pluperfect

Conjuguemos: practice the pluperfect

Tex’s French Grammar: practice the pluperfect

To learn French: Practice the pluperfect

Using one of the recommended resources to get writing feedback, respond to the prompt below.

Translate the following sentences into French, using the tenses in brackets, as per the example below.

  • We had dressed for the occasion but had not planned the rain.

(s’habiller: pluperfect, prévoir: pluperfect)

  • They did not dine with you because they had already eaten. 

(dîner: passé composé / manger: pluperfect).

  • Why had she invited you if she didn’t like you? 

(inviter: pluperfect / aimer: imperfect)

  • I had fallen asleep while watching TV. 

(s’endormir: pluperfect / regarder: gerund)

  • We have sold the books you had given us. 

(vendre: passé composé / donner: pluperfect).



He had barely finished breakfast and they were already preparing lunch. 

(finir: pluperfect / préparer: imperfect).

=> Il avait à peine fini le petit déjeuner et ils préparaient déjà le déjeuner.

Using one of the platforms for finding a tutor or language exchange partner, practice the speaking activities below.

Partner Speaking Exercise:

  • Have your French-speaking partner think about a situation, either real or imagined, where everything went wrong (e.g: embarrassing situation, failing an exam, being late or getting lost). Ask them to explain the situation to you in French, using the passé composé. 
  • Ask your partner at least three questions, using the pluperfect. These questions can aim at determining why the situation happened or whether they had done certain things that could have prevented it from happening. 
  • Now, it’s your turn to think about a similar situation, describe it in the passé composé and answer your partner’s questions using the pluperfect.


Partner: Je suis arrivé(e) en retard à mon rendez-vous.

You: Avais-tu oublié tes clés ? Étais-tu parti sans tes chaussures ? Avais-tu enregistré l’adresse de ton rendez-vous dans ton téléphone ?

Independent Speaking Exercise:

  • Pick five things you have done in the past (e.g: a country you visited, a meal you have tried, an activity you have done, a person you have met), and think about when you have done it. Then, make sentences as per the examples below.


Je suis allé au Canada cette année. Je n’étais jamais allé au Canada avant.

J’ai attrapé la grippe la semaine dernière. J’avais déjà eu la grippe avant.

You can find instructions and a download link in our flashcards module.

Lesson Content
0% Complete 0/1 Steps