Past Perfect Tense – Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto

Do you know what Past Perfect Tense is called in Spanish? Ha! I bet you didn’t know this one :)

Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto….en español.

There are 3 ways we could use this tense.

  1. When telling a story in the past
  2. When expressing regret (lamentar)
  3. Third Conditional sentence (advance form of English)

We use the pretérito pluscuamperfecto (past perfect) to describe actions that took place before a certain point in the past.

We always use the past perfect when we are telling a story (in the simple past) and then want to look back at something that happened earlier. Para mayor detalle, ver la siguiente figura:

Past Perfect Tense Gramatica Inglés Learnenglish


So in my example above, I said “I left Chile” (I used a verb in Simple Past) literally translated, “salí de Chile”. Me fui de Chile.

Left is past tense of the verb To Leave/Salir

TIP: Past Perfect Tense and Simple Past Tense are usually used together to tell a story. Past Perfect Tense is formed with the past tense of helping verb “have” which is  HAD + PARTICIPLE

See my example in the diagram below:

Past Perfect Tense Simple Past Tense Aprender Ingles


I assume you know what participle means – participio

Here is a short list of irregular and regular verbs I mentioned in my podcast Episode 10 – and their participle.

Past Perfect Tense Aprender Ingles

Hey, you can also use Past Perfect to join 2 sentences in the past. For example:

I went to bed. Before that I watched TV.

  1. Before I went to bed, I had watched TV.
  2. After I had watched TV, I went to bed.

In the above example, think about the past, which action happened first?

Using Past Perfect To Express Regret (Lamentar)

  • I started a bad habit when I was younger, I started smoking.  I wish I hadn’t started smoking when I was younger, I know it’s not good for my health. 

Agarré (comencé, empecé) un mal hábito cuando era joven, comencé (empecé) a fumar. Ojalá no huebiesé empezado a fumar cuando era joven, se que no es bueno para mi salud.

  • When I arrived in Australia, I realised I didn’t buy enough gifts. I wish I had bought more gifts for my family when I was in Chile.

Cuando llegué a Australia (desde Chile), me di cuenta de que no compré suficientes regalos. Ojalá hubiese comprado más regalos para mi familia cuando estuve en Chile

Wish – has many meanings in English.  At the start of a sentence, it’s often used to express regret, to feel sorry about something/someone. Equivalent translation to Spanish is Ojalá. Ya me gustaría.Eso desearía. Eso quisiera.

Third Conditional Sentence

What would happen if I stayed back in Chile a little bit longer?

  1. I wouldn’t have forgotten to buy more gifts, if I had stayed just a couple of months longer in Chile. I would have planned my days better and would have gone shopping earlier.

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