Conjugate être, avoir, faire, prendre (+ avoir) in Le Plus-que-parfait (pluperfect tense)

Plus-que-parfait in French is the direct equivalent of the Pluperfect in English. It could be described as the past of the past:

When I had finished my homework, I went for a walk.

Of course, English speakers are likely to make contractions: I'd finished, etc.

Look at these examples of Plus-que-parfait:

J'avais déjà été déçu par elle avant.
I'd already been disappointed by her before.

Ils avaient été heureux ensemble.
They had been happy together.

Nous avions été prévenus.
We had been warned.

Ils avaient eu la grippe cet hiver-là.
They'd had the flu that winter.

Elle avait eu deux chats au cours de sa vie.
She'd had two cats over the course of her life.

Nous avions eu froid cette nuit-là.
We'd been cold that night.

Vous aviez fait un gâteau pour l'occasion.
You'd made a cake for the occasion.

Elle avait fait ses devoirs avant qu'il n'arrive.
She had done her homework before he arrived.

Ils l'avaient fait, mais personne ne le savait !
They had done it, but no one knew!

J'avais pris le train.
I had taken the train.

Nous avions pris nos places en avance mais nous n'avons pas pu y aller au final.
We had booked our tickets in advance but we couldn't go in the end.

Avais-tu pris ton appareil photo quand tu es allé en vacances ?
Had you taken your camera when you went on holidays?

  
Plus-que-parfait follows this construction, which is similar to the Pluperfect in English (had +-ed):
 
avoir in Imparfait +  été / eu / fait / pris [past participles]
 
Reminder of avoir in Imparfait 
j'avais
tu avais
il avait
nous avions
vous aviez
ils avaient
 
 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Nous avions pris nos places en avance mais nous n'avons pas pu y aller au final.
We had booked our tickets in advance but we couldn't go in the end.


Ils avaient eu la grippe cet hiver-là.
They'd had the flu that winter.


J'avais pris le train.
I had taken the train.


Elle avait eu deux chats au cours de sa vie.
She'd had two cats over the course of her life.


Avais-tu pris ton appareil photo quand tu es allé en vacances ?
Had you taken your camera when you went on holidays?


Elles avaient juste voulu aider.
They had just wanted to help.


J'avais déjà été déçu par elle avant.
I'd already been disappointed by her before.


Nous avions été prévenus.
We had been warned.


Il n'avait jamais voulu que ça arrive.
He had never wanted that to happen.


Ils l'avaient fait, mais personne ne le savait !
They had done it, but no one knew!


Nous avions toujours voulu acheter une maison.
We had always wanted to buy a house.


Aviez-vous jamais voulu être actrice avant de décrocher ce rôle ?
Had you ever wanted to be an actress before getting that role?


Ils avaient été heureux ensemble.
They had been happy together.


Elle avait fait ses devoirs avant qu'il n'arrive.
She had done her homework before he arrived.


Tu avais voulu le gifler ce jour-là.
You had wanted to slap him that day.


Nous avions eu froid cette nuit-là.
We'd been cold that night.


Si j'avais voulu...
If I had wanted....


Vous aviez fait un gâteau pour l'occasion.
You'd made a cake for the occasion.


avoir



être



faire



prendre



vouloir



Q&A

helen

Kwiziq community member

3 October 2017

3 replies

Isn't the second half of this sentence conditional?

Here's the sentence that you wrote: Nous avions pris nos places en avance mais nous n'avons pas pu y aller au final." Stated translation was: "We had taken our seats in advance but we could not go in the end." Wouldn't we use the conditional for the second half of that sentence: "...nous ne pourions pas y aller au final."

Ron

Kwiziq community member

4 October 2017

4/10/17

Bonjour Helen, I think that you may be onto something with your question: here is how I would have stated it --> Nous avions pris nos places à l’avance, mais nous ne pourrions pas aller au final. The thing to keep in mind with this lesson is this: it is about the plus-que-parfait and not le conditionnel. The issue that I have with the phrase is this, I would have used the verb «acheter» --> Nous avions acheté nos places à l'avance . . . the reason being that we had our ticket in advance but were unable to attend. prendre nos places, to me, has the sense that we went to the venue before the show began. Perhaps this is a French locution, prendre nos places, that I have not heard of before. J'espère que ma réponse vous aiderait. Bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos études en français, la langue de Molière et qui a été utilisé par le monde français depuis l’époque d’Hugues Capet

Chris

Kwiziq community member

17 October 2017

17/10/17

I think you are confusing the double meaning of "could" in the English language. "Could" is either the imperfect of "can" or the conditional of can. In the example above, "...we could not go there..." the word "could" is NOT conditional but the imperfect. Therefore the use of the conditional in French is incorrect. You need the passé composé : nous n'avons pas pu (= we were not able to ...)

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

1 August 2018

1/08/18

Bonjour à tous !

Yes, here the expression "prendre ses places" in French means "to buy/book one's tickets"  :)

I've now amended the EN in the example to make it clearer!

Bonne journée !

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

19 May 2017

4 replies

Si tu avais été plus petit, tu aurais pu être jockey.

why is it not si tu aurais été plus petit in this example , as it seems more conditional than past?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

19 May 2017

19/05/17

Bonjour Jennifer ! When you express an hypothesis with an "if" clause, the verb following "if" is in the Simple Past, not Conditional: "If I *bought* a house, I would be happy." You don't say "If I *would buy* a house..." It's the same in French, where we use L'Imparfait after "si": "Si j'*achetais* une maison, je serais heureux." See the related lesson: https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/l-imparfait-usage-in-hypothetical-clauses-introduced-by-si-if-followed-by-le-conditionnel-present I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

19 May 2017

19/05/17

Very helpful, thank you

Chris

Kwiziq community member

22 May 2017

22/05/17

The case at hand deals with the past and therefore it uses the plusqueparfai in the main clause and the conditionel passé in the si-clause: If I HAD BEEN smaller I COULD HAVE BEEN a jockey. With the imperfect in the main clause and the conditionel présent in the si-clause it translates as: If I WERE smaller I WOULD BE a jockey. This is actually completely parallel to English. -- Chris.

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

22 May 2017

22/05/17

Thank you

Steven

Kwiziq community member

11 November 2016

1 reply

Pourquoi explétif ne dans "Elle avait fait ses devoirs avant qu'il n'arrive." Merci.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

16 November 2016

16/11/16

Bonjour Steven !

The expression "avant que" is always followed by the "ne explétif".

Have a look at the related lesson: https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/how-to-use-avant-que-ne-expletif-subjonctif-before-i-do

I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

24 September 2016

2 replies

Agreement of froid

Why is it not nous avions eu froids instead of nous avions eu froid. Is froid not an adjective here? In so many of the other examples there is agreement. What is the difference?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

24 September 2016

24/09/16

Bonjour Jennifer, No, froid is a noun in French, even though it's an adjective in English. That's why we say "avoir froid" (literally, "to have cold") rather than using être.

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

24 September 2016

24/09/16

Merci bien

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