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Guide To The Past Perfect Tense In Spanish

So, you’re ready to learn about how to conjugate for the past perfect in Spanish? Let’s do it! Of the 5 past tense conjugations in Spanish, this one is used daily by native Spanish speakers as they reflect on their past actions.


The past perfect tense is best described as “a tense that’s used to talk about an action that occurred before another.”

Whereas with the preterite, you just say “I spoke to him” - in the past perfect that same sentence would be “I had spoken to him.…”

I mean, who would say that sentence and not say more? That’s the point, we use the past perfect to mention an action, usually before another. So that sentence might be “I had spoken to him about it, and he told me it’s a bad idea.”


In this article, we’ll briefly go over the theory and usage of the past perfect tense in Spanish, then, we’ll talk about how to conjugate it, what the irregular verbs look like in it, and some examples.

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When To Use The Past Perfect Tense In Spanish

We use the past perfect tense in Spanish to talk about an action that was being done before another. It might sound a bit strange, but think of the sentence “I had lived in that house for 4 years.”


This sentence tells us what action was completed (living) and indicates that another situation came about thereafter.



Here are some other examples of the perfect past tense below:

Había comido antes de irme

(I had eaten before leaving)

Habías visto mucha genta

(You had seen a lot of people)


Habíamos llegado antes de la fiesta empezara

(We had arrived before the party started)


How Do You Conjugate Verbs For The Past Perfect Tense In Spanish?

The past perfect is conjugated quite easily, in fact, you just take the auxiliary verb Haber in the imperfect tense (Había), and you add any verb in its past participle form (Ex. Hablado).

Simply put - Había + Past Participle (Ex. Hablado, Visto, Intentado, Cocinado)


10 Common Verbs In The Past Perfect Tense

Now we'll go over 10 of the most common verbs in Spanish in the past perfect tense. If you want to acquire these extremely quickly, write them down and review them for a few days. You'll learn them in no time, friend.


Comer (To eat)

Subject

Verb In The Past Perfect Tense

Yo (I)

Había comido

Tú (You)

Habías comido

Él/Ella/Usted (He/She/You-Formal)

Había comido

Ellos/as/Ustedes (They/You-Plural)

Habían comido

Nosotros/as (We)

Habíamos comido

Vosotros/as (You-Plural | SPAIN)

Habíais comido


Hablar (To talk)

Subject

Verb In The Past Perfect Tense

Yo (I)

Había hablado

Tú (You)

Habías hablado

Él/Ella/Usted (He/She/You-Formal)

Había hablado

Ellos/as/Ustedes (They/You-Plural)

Habían hablado

Nosotros/as (We)

Habíamos hablado

Vosotros/as (You-Plural | SPAIN)

Habíais hablado


Vivir (To live)

Subject

Verb In The Past Perfect Tense

Yo (I)

Había vivido

Tú (You)

Habías vivido

Él/Ella/Usted (He/She/You-Formal)

Había vivido

Ellos/as/Ustedes (They/You-Plural)

Habían vivido

Nosotros/as (We)

Habíamos vivido

Vosotros/as (You-Plural | SPAIN)

Habíais vivido


Trabajar (To work)

Subject

Verb In The Past Perfect Tense

Yo (I)

Había trabajado

Tú (You)

Habías trabajado

Él/Ella/Usted (He/She/You-Formal)

Había trabajado

Ellos/as/Ustedes (They/You-Plural)

Habían trabajado

Nosotros/as (We)

Habíamos trabajado

Vosotros/as (You-Plural | SPAIN)

Habíais trabajado


Estudiar (To study)

Subject

Verb In The Past Perfect Tense

Yo (I)

Había estudiado

Tú (You)

Habías estudiado

Él/Ella/Usted (He/She/You-Formal)

Había estudiado

Ellos/as/Ustedes (They/You-Plural)

Habían estudiado

Nosotros/as (We)

Habíamos estudiado

Vosotros/as (You-Plural | SPAIN)

Habíais estudiado


Llegar (To arrive)

Subject

Verb In The Past Perfect Tense

Yo (I)

Había llegado

Tú (You)

Habías llegado

Él/Ella/Usted (He/She/You-Formal)

Había llegado

Ellos/as/Ustedes (They/You-Plural)

Habían llegado

Nosotros/as (We)

Habíamos llegado

Vosotros/as (You-Plural | SPAIN)

Habíais llegado


Viajar (To travel)

Subject

Verb In The Past Perfect Tense

Yo (I)

Había viajado

Tú (You)

Habías viajado

Él/Ella/Usted (He/She/You-Formal)

Había viajado

Ellos/as/Ustedes (They/You-Plural)

Habían viajado

Nosotros/as (We)

Habíamos viajado

Vosotros/as (You-Plural | SPAIN)

Habíais viajado


Comprar (To buy)

Subject

Verb In The Past Perfect Tense

Yo (I)

Había comprado

Tú (You)

Habías comprado

Él/Ella/Usted (He/She/You-Formal)

Había comprado

Ellos/as/Ustedes (They/You-Plural)

Habían comprado

Nosotros/as (We)

Habíamos comprado

Vosotros/as (You-Plural | SPAIN)

Habíais comprado


Jugar (To play)

Subject

Verb In The Past Perfect Tense

Yo (I)

Había jugado

Tú (You)

Habías jugado

Él/Ella/Usted (He/She/You-Formal)

Había jugado

Ellos/as/Ustedes (They/You-Plural)

Habían jugado

Nosotros/as (We)

Habíamos jugado

Vosotros/as (You-Plural | SPAIN)

Habíais jugado


Aprender (To learn)

Subject

Verb In The Past Perfect Tense

Yo (I)

Había aprendido

Tú (You)

Habías aprendido

Él/Ella/Usted (He/She/You-Formal)

Había aprendido

Ellos/as/Ustedes (They/You-Plural)

Habían aprendido

Nosotros/as (We)

Habíamos aprendido

Vosotros/as (You-Plural | SPAIN)

Habíais aprendido


Irregular Past Participles

Spanish Verb

Irregular Past Participle

Ver

Visto

Escribir

Escrito

Abrir

Abierto

Hacer

Hecho

Volver

Vuelto

Morir

Muerto

Poner

Puesto

Decir

Dicho

Leer

Leído



Example Sentences Using The Past Perfect Tense

In this section, we'll go over some examples of the past perfect tense in action. The verb Haber will be the color blue, and the past participle for the word will be in orange. If you have a language notebook, write these down to help you acquire them easily. You got this!

Example Sentence

English Translation

Ya había comido antes de llegar

I had already eaten before arriving

Ella había hablado con él ayer

She had spoken with him yesterday

Ellos habían vivido en esa ciudad durante años

They had lived in that city for years

Habíamos trabajado juntos en el proyecto

We had worked together on the project

Habías estudiado para el examen, ¿verdad?

You had studied for the exam, right?

Él había llegado antes de la hora acordada

He had arrived before the agreed time

Habían viajado a varios países el año pasado

They had traveled to several countries last year

Había comprado un regalo para su hermana

She had bought a gift for his/her sister

Los niños habían jugado en el parque por la tarde

The children had played in the park in the afternoon

Habíamos aprendido muchas cosas nuevas en ese curso

We had learned many new things in that course


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