When To Use The Spanish Past Perfect (Pluscuamperfecto) [+11 Examples & Quiz]

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In this Spanish grammar lesson, you will learn when to use the Spanish past perfect.

In this lesson you will learn about:

  • when to use the Spanish past perfect
  • using ya (already) with the Spanish past perfect
  • how the Spanish past perfect is used in sentences in Spanish
  • how you can quiz yourself on when to use the Spanish past perfect
  • how to practice with flashcards on when to use the Spanish past perfect
  • how and why you should use the courses of Language Atlas to learn Spanish

By the end of the lesson you will know all about when to use the Spanish past perfect!

Table of Contents

When To Use The Spanish Past Perfect (Pluscuamperfecto)

You will use the Spanish past perfect to talk about a past action that happened before another past action.

Sometimes this tense is also called the past of the past.

servir

Cuando llegamos al restaurante ya habían servido el primer plato.

When we arrived at the restaurant, the first course had already been served.

escuchar

Antes de que te bajaras del coche, el perro ya os había escuchado llegar.

Before you got out of the car, the dog had already heard you coming.

recoger

Menos mal que cuando empezó a llover ya había recogido la ropa del tendedero.

Fortunately, when the rain started to fall, I had already taken my clothes off the clothesline.

When both past actions happen in the same sentence, you will find a connecting word. You can see these connecting words (antes de/cuando) in the example sentences:

You may also find both past actions in two different sentences. The context will tell which one took place first.

aprobar/estudiar

Había aprobado el examen. Había estudiado mucho para ello.

I had passed the exam. I had studied hard for it.

Even though there are no connecting words you can tell by the context which past action happened first.

First you studied, and then you passed the exam.

Using Ya (Already) With the Spanish Past Perfect (Pluscuamperfecto)

You can also use ya (already) with the Spanish past perfect.

You can place ya either before or after the haber + past participle.

Have a look at some examples:

terminar

Fui a buscar a mi primo a la fiesta pero ya había terminado.

I went to pick up my cousin from the party but it was already over.

despertar

Cuando te llamé, ya te habías despertado.

When I called you, you were already awake.

huir/robar

Cuando llegó la policía, el ladrón ya había huido y había robado todas las joyas.

When the police arrived, the thief had already fled and stolen all the jewellery.

quemar

Cuando nos enteramos del incendio el edificio ya se había quemado.

By the time we heard about the fire, the building had already burned down.

empezar

Cuando llegaron al cine , la película ya había empezado.

When they arrived at the cinema, the film had already started.

hacer

Laura fue al supermercado, pero se olvidó que ya había hecho las compras el día anterior.

Laura went to the supermarket, but forgot that she had already done her shopping the day before.

hacer

Entendí mal, señor. Pensé que ya había hecho una reserva.

I misunderstood, sir. I thought you had already made a reservation.

Example Sentences on When To Use The Spanish Past Perfect (Pluscuamperfecto)

This section of the lesson on when to use the Spanish past perfect is about seeing the tense in action.

This is valuable because you can improve your understanding of when to use the Spanish past perfect through examples.

servir

Cuando llegamos al restaurante ya habían servido el primer plato.

When we arrived at the restaurant, the first course had already been served.

escuchar

Antes de que te bajaras del coche, el perro ya os había escuchado llegar.

Before you got out of the car, the dog had already heard you coming.

recoger

Menos mal que cuando empezó a llover ya había recogido la ropa del tendedero.

Fortunately, when the rain started to fall, I had already taken my clothes off the clothesline.

aprobar/estudiar

Había aprobado el examen. Había estudiado mucho para ello.

I had passed the exam. I had studied hard for it.

terminar

Fui a buscar a mi primo a la fiesta pero ya había terminado.

I went to pick up my cousin from the party but it was already over.

despertar

Cuando te llamé, ya te habías despertado.

When I called you, you were already awake.

huir/robar

Cuando llegó la policía, el ladrón ya había huido y había robado todas las joyas.

When the police arrived, the thief had already fled and stolen all the jewellery.

quemar

Cuando nos enteramos del incendio el edificio ya se había quemado.

By the time we heard about the fire, the building had already burned down.

empezar

Cuando llegaron al cine , la película ya había empezado.

When they arrived at the cinema, the film had already started.

hacer

Laura fue al supermercado, pero se olvidó que ya había hecho las compras el día anterior.

Laura went to the supermarket, but forgot that she had already done her shopping the day before.

hacer

Entendí mal, señor. Pensé que ya había hecho una reserva.

I misunderstood, sir. I thought you had already made a reservation.

Quiz Yourself on When To Use The Spanish Past Perfect (Pluscuamperfecto)

At the end of every lesson you can do a small quiz.

You will see the sentences of the previous chapter.

You will either need to fill in the blanks, choose the correct multiple choice option, or both.

Once you are done the correct answer will be shown.

You can redo the quiz as many times as you want!

How to Practice With Flashcards for This Lesson

Using flashcards is an absolute necessity when it comes to learning a language!

It is the best way to memorize what you learn, you can personalize your progression because it adapts to your actions, and all flashcards have audio to improve your hearing and pronunciation.

Please read our article on how to learn a new language for more information on flashcards and the best way to learn a new language.

There are two ways to practice with Flashcards for this lesson.

  1. Anki
  2. The Flashcards in our Courses

Anki is a free software with which you can create and practice flashcards.

After you have downloaded Anki for free, you can get our Spanish B1 Anki Deck.

This Anki Deck contains 2,052 flashcards with which you can practice absolutely everything for Spanish B1.

All the flashcards have text, images, explanations, and audio.

You can also use our courses that have flashcards integrated alongside lessons with audio, quizzes and much more!

However, I am sure you are wondering, what are your courses, and why should I take them?

The Courses of Language Atlas

Have you ever wondered what the best way is to learn a new language?

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Using my experience and by doing research I created Language Atlas, a platform where people can learn French and Spanish in the most effective and efficient way.

I created free lessons and quizzes so that there would always be an easy and accessible way for people to learn or brush up on their language skills.

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