use of plus-que parfait

use of plus-que parfait

As a first step into B2 territory, I'm trying to understand how/when this tense is used. My first idea is that it is used in a "story- telling" way. e.g. Elles étaient allées manger une glace. They had gone to eat an ice cream.... Thus they were not home when the tree fell in their house. Or: "I know a tree fell on their house- are they okay? Yes, they had gone to eat an ice cream." So, am I going in the right direction as far as understanding how this tense is used?
Asked 10 years ago
LauraKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Bonjour Melody,

While your examples are fine, the plus-que-parfait doesn't necessarily have anything to do with story telling. It's used just like the pluperfect is used in English: to talk about something that happened in the past before something else happened in the past.

For example, Je suis allé à la banque hier just means "I went to the bank yesterday." In comparison, J'étais allé à la banque hier (I'd gone to the bank yesterday) sets the stage for another action verb, e.g., quand il est arrivé.


- Tiens, Laura, je suis là !

- Pardon Melody, j'étais déjà partie quand tu as téléphoné pour me dire que tu arrivais.

Does that help?

AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Bonjour Colleen / Ophie !

Here is the link Melody was talking about:

Bonne journée !

Thanks as ever, and yes, it is very helpful. Like many Americans (I suspect) I have a very limited knowledge of grammar terminology- just the obvious, such as noun, verb, subject. So, seeing the word " pluperfect" in the title didn't tell me anything. As a result of studying French I've learned way more about grammar than I did from classes in English. I know that the page is meant to teach the conjugation of the tense, but I think that it would be really helpful to add the information you gave in your first two paragraphs, including some examples (sentences) like the ones in your reply. I spent quite a bit of time reading the sentences and puzzling over how they might be used. Étais-tu allé voir "Matrix"? Had you gone to see "The Matrix"? (Rather than “Have you gone to see the matrix?”). I finally realized/ guessed (at least) that the sentences were implicity referring to some other (connected) event/ actions that had happened at a different time. I now realize that there is a link on the lesson page to “jargon”, and had I clicked on that and read it, I would have saved myself (and you) some time. Even so, I’d vote for adding sentences like this version of yours to the jargon page: J'étais allé à la banque hier quand il est arrivé. For myself at least, being given a context/ example in a French sentence makes the idea ‘stick’. btw, I love kwiziq
LauraKwiziq language super star
Thanks Melody, I'll pass your suggestion on to Aurélie so that she can update the lesson. Bon dimanche !
Thanks Laura. And to all the team for your great work.
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Melody ! Thanks to you, we've now added more context to the Plus-que-Parfait examples, and also added some with other être verbs. Merci et à bientôt !
Merci Aurelie!
Hello Melody, Aurelie, Laura, I am new to all the wonders of Lawless French and am searching for the link to the 'jargon page' which Melody mentioned above. By the way, reading your discussion has clarified the pluperfect for me already (something I've avoided tackling ;-) Thank you, Ophie
Oops, sorry, 'Ophie' is my alter-ego which I sometimes use online. But as I see my real name listed on this page we'll stick with 'Colleen', the real me :-) I apologise for the confusion.

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