Conjugate verbs (+ être) in Le Plus-que-parfait (pluperfect tense)

Look at these examples of aller in the Plus-que-parfait:

J'étais allé aux Etats-Unis une fois avant de le rencontrer.
I had gone to America once before meeting him.

Étais-tu allé voir "Matrix" cette année-là ?
Had you gone to see "The Matrix" that year?

Elle était allée à l'université.
She had gone to university.

Nous étions allés la voir immédiatement.
We had gone to see her straight away.

étiez-vous allés cet été-là?
Where had you gone that summer?

Ils étaient allés au cinéma.
They had gone to the cinema.

Elles étaient allées manger une glace quand le voleur est venu.
They had gone to eat an ice cream when the thief came.

Notice that être is used - not avoir.

Just as with Le Passé Composé, all the so-called MRS P VANDERTRAMP verbs (mostly movement verbs) conjugate with être in the Plus-que-parfait:

It's easy to conjugate:
être (Imparfait) + allé (or other p.p.)

As with Le Passé Composé, the past participle allé agrees in gender and number with the subject. So use allée (fem. sing.), or allés/allées (plural masc/fem).

Here are examples using other être verbs in Le Plus-que-Parfait:

Elle était déjà partie quand je suis arrivé.
She had already left when I got there.

J'étais sorti de la voiture quand je les ai entendus.
I'd got out of the car when I heard them.

Elle était tombée de vélo, d'où son bras dans le plâtre.
She'd fallen off her bike, hence her arm in a cast.

Nous étions restés bons amis, jusqu'à ce qu'il la rencontre.
We'd remained good friends, until he met her.

Nous étions très surpris de les voir, car ils n'étaient pas venus ici depuis trois ans.
We were very surprised to see them, for they hadn't come here for three years.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Nous étions allés la voir immédiatement.
We had gone to see her straight away.


Elle était tombée de vélo, d'où son bras dans le plâtre.
She'd fallen off her bike, hence her arm in a cast.


Étais-tu allé voir "Matrix" cette année-là ?
Had you gone to see "The Matrix" that year?


Ils étaient allés au cinéma.
They had gone to the cinema.


J'étais sorti de la voiture quand je les ai entendus.
I'd got out of the car when I heard them.


J'étais allé aux Etats-Unis une fois avant de le rencontrer.
I had gone to America once before meeting him.


Elle était allée à l'université.
She had gone to university.


Elle était déjà partie quand je suis arrivé.
She had already left when I got there.



Nous étions très surpris de les voir, car ils n'étaient pas venus ici depuis trois ans.
We were very surprised to see them, for they hadn't come here for three years.


Elles étaient allées manger une glace quand le voleur est venu.
They had gone to eat an ice cream when the thief came.



Nous étions restés bons amis, jusqu'à ce qu'il la rencontre.
We'd remained good friends, until he met her.


étiez-vous allés cet été-là?
Where had you gone that summer?


Q&A

eric

Kwiziq community member

6 July 2018

5 replies

Shouldn't appeller be in the future tense?

Surely "I'll call you before leaving." requires appeller to be in the future tense as the sentence means, "I will call you before leaving". I hope you can help, thanks.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

7 July 2018

7/07/18

Hi Eric,


Indeed "I'll call you before leaving" would be "Je t'appellerai avant de partir" but I can' find the context in that lesson , would you be able to clarify it for me?

eric

Kwiziq community member

7 July 2018

7/07/18

Hi Cecile,


Je t'appelle ________ . I'll call you before leaving.HINT: Use "partir"Je t'appelle ________ . I'll call you before leaving.HINT: Use "partir"

eric

Kwiziq community member

7 July 2018

7/07/18

Hi again Cecile,


Sorry half of my reply is missing. The above refers to question 10 of a B2 focus quiz I did on the 5th. of July. I was marked as wrong for using the future tense.


Hope this helps,


Eric

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

8 July 2018

8/07/18

Hi Eric,


I don't have access to the quizzes but if you use the 'Report  It' button in your Corrrection Board it links directly to the specific quiz and reporting your query that way makes it easier for Aurélie to answer you.


She is on leave at the moment but I am sure she will answer when she returns.


Sometimes we use the present tense instead of the future when things are imminent so I suspect this is the case here.


So you can say both..."Je t'appelle avant de partir" (meaning pretty soon) et  "Je t'appellerai avant de partir" (a bit further away in time .)


Hope this helps!

eric

Kwiziq community member

8 July 2018

8/07/18

Hello Cécile,


thanks for your help,


Eric


Kevin

Kwiziq community member

10 October 2016

1 reply

Is there a test for the plus-que-parfait with être?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

11 October 2016

11/10/16

Bonjour Kevin !

Yes, here is the link to the related lesson:
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/conjugate-irregular-etre-avoir-faire-prendre-avoir-in-le-plus-que-parfait-pluperfect-tense

À bientôt !

Melody

Kwiziq community member

6 August 2016

9 replies

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?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

6 August 2016

6/08/16

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.


Or,


- Tiens, Laura, je suis là !


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


Does that help?

Melody

Kwiziq community member

7 August 2016

7/08/16

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

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

7 August 2016

7/08/16

Thanks Melody, I'll pass your suggestion on to Aurélie so that she can update the lesson.

Bon dimanche !

Melody

Kwiziq community member

7 August 2016

7/08/16

Thanks Laura. And to all the team for your great work.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

8 August 2016

8/08/16

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 !

Melody

Kwiziq community member

8 August 2016

8/08/16

Merci Aurelie!

Colleen

Kwiziq community member

13 February 2018

13/02/18

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

Colleen

Kwiziq community member

13 February 2018

13/02/18

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.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

5 March 2018

5/03/18

Bonjour Colleen / Ophie !


Here is the link Melody was talking about:


https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/glossary/verb-tense-mood/the-french-pluperfect-le-plus-que-parfait


Bonne journée !

Clever stuff underway!