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

Look at these examples of aller in 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 Passé composé, all the so-called MRS P VANDERTRAMP verbs (mostly movement verbs) conjugate with être in Plus-que-parfait.

It's easy to conjugate:

être in Imparfait + [past participle]
As with Passé composé, the past participle (allé, parti, venu...) agrees in gender and number with the subject.
So use allée, partie, venue... (fem. sing.), or allés/allées, partis/parties, venus/venues... (plural masc/fem).

Here are examples using other être verbs in 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

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?


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.


Q&A Forum 7 questions, 25 answers

SusanC1Kwiziq community member

Plus-que parfait

With reference to the sentence 'where had you gone that summer?' ..would the french translation be the same if the sentence was ' where did you go that summer ' or 'where had you been that summer?' 
Asked 4 weeks ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Susan,

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

Where had you been that summer? Où aviez-vous été cet été-là? 

Both sentences use the pluperfect tense and mean the same thing but the first one is more elegant.

Where did you go that summer? = Où êtes vous allés cet été-là?

This sentence is in the passé composé in French.

Hope this helps!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

The English sentence has the purpose to get you to use the same time in the French translation, for practice purposes. Usage of tenses in French and English are similar in some instances and differ in others. But, generally, you would need some context to determine the proper tense to use.

Susan asked:View original

Plus-que parfait

With reference to the sentence 'where had you gone that summer?' ..would the french translation be the same if the sentence was ' where did you go that summer ' or 'where had you been that summer?' 

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KevinB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Example "Nous étions restés bons amis..."

Regarding this example:

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

...should it not be 

Nous étions restés bons amis, jusqu'à ce qu'il l'a rencontrée.

...?

Asked 9 months ago
AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

I think "la rencontre" is correct, because jusqu'à ce que must be followed by the subjunctive. The present subjunctive is used rather than the past ("l'ait rencontrée") because they stopped being good friends as soon as he met her. (In general the past subjunctive is used when the action in the subordinate clause precedes the main clause.)

See: Jusqu'à ce que + Le Subjonctif = Until [someone] does [something]

 

Example "Nous étions restés bons amis..."

Regarding this example:

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

...should it not be 

Nous étions restés bons amis, jusqu'à ce qu'il l'a rencontrée.

...?

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DarcyhallA1Kwiziq community member

why is j'étais allée wrong? Do you not have to make the past participle agree in the pluperfect?

Asked 9 months ago
CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Darcyhall,

If you look at the TIP in the lesson it will confirm the agreement rules of the pluperfect.

What do you mean by ‘wrong’ ?  it depends on the subject being male or female in that sentence...

DarcyhallA1Kwiziq community member

It was on one of the questions at the bottom and was marked wrong

why is j'étais allée wrong? Do you not have to make the past participle agree in the pluperfect?

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DraganaC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

It's easy to Conjugate - être in Plus -que-parfait

Hi, you say - être in Présent indicatif + [past participle] for Plus-que-Parfait

is it not L'imparfait of  être + pas participle?

Merci d'avance

Dragana

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer
Yes, The imperfect of avoir/être + pp
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Dragana !

You are absolutely correct, thanks very much for letting us know.

It's now been fixed :)

Merci encore et bonne journée !

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

To conjugate être in plusquamperfect:

J'ai été
Tu avais été
Il/elle/on avait été
Nous avons été
Vous avez été
Ils/elles avaient été

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Nous avions été
Vous aviez été

Sorry about that.

DraganaC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thank you.

So it should read L’imparfait + past participle NOT Present Indicatif + past participle?

Thanks

Dragana

It's easy to Conjugate - être in Plus -que-parfait

Hi, you say - être in Présent indicatif + [past participle] for Plus-que-Parfait

is it not L'imparfait of  être + pas participle?

Merci d'avance

Dragana

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EricC1Kwiziq community member

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.
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

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?

CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

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!

EricC1Kwiziq community member

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"

EricC1Kwiziq community member

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

EricC1Kwiziq community member

Hello Cécile,

thanks for your help,

Eric

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.

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KevinB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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

Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Kevin ! Yes, here is the link to the related lesson: Conjugate être, avoir, faire, prendre (+ avoir) in Le Plus-que-parfait (pluperfect tense) À bientôt !

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

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MelodyB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team memberCorrect 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.

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?

AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Colleen / Ophie !

Here is the link Melody was talking about:

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

Bonne journée !

MelodyB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
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 team member
Thanks Melody, I'll pass your suggestion on to Aurélie so that she can update the lesson. Bon dimanche !
MelodyB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thanks Laura. And to all the team for your great work.
AurélieKwiziq team member
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 !
MelodyB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Merci Aurelie!
ColleenA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
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
ColleenA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
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.

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?

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