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

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


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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


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


avoir



être



faire



prendre



vouloir



Q&A Forum 5 questions, 11 answers

MuratA2Kwiziq community member

bonjour!.

"Ils avaient fait..." 

"Il avait fait..." 

These two sentences sound same. Is there a way that we can understand the correct sujet?

Asked 6 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Actually Murat, they do sound different as the first one ils (plural) will have a -z sound which is a mandatory liaison , sounding -

Il Z avaient fait

The second example il ( singular) has no ‘s’ so will sound -

I Lavait fait

Hope this helps!

bonjour!.

"Ils avaient fait..." 

"Il avait fait..." 

These two sentences sound same. Is there a way that we can understand the correct sujet?

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HelenA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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."
Asked 2 years ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer
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).
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
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
AurélieKwiziq team member

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 !

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."

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JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
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: Using L'Imparfait in hypothetical clauses introduced by si (if) + Le Conditionnel Présent I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Very helpful, thank you
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
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.
JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thank you

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?

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StevenC1Kwiziq community member

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

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Steven !

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

Have a look at the related lesson: Avant que + ne explétif + Le Subjonctif = Before I do">Avant que + ne explétif + Le Subjonctif = Before I do">Avant que + ne explétif + Le Subjonctif = Before I do">Avant que + ne explétif + Le Subjonctif = Before I do

I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

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

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JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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?
Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
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.
JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Merci bien

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?

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