French/Grammar/Tenses/Pluperfect of the indicative

< French‎ | Grammar‎ | Tenses

In French the pluperfect is called le plus-que-parfait. In English, it is also called the more than perfect.


  • The pluperfect is a compound tense - it consists of two verbs, the auxiliary verb and the past participle of the verb one seeks to use in this tense.
  • The auxiliary verb is conjugated as if it were being used in the imperfect.
  • The past participle is added immediately after the auxiliary verb.
  • A negative structure such as ne ... pas is always placed around the auxiliary verb, immediately before the past participle.
  • All past participle agreement rules that apply to composed tenses apply to the pluperfect.



The pluperfect is used to describe a past action that occurred before a second past action that is in the passé composé or imparfait.

  • Elle était vieille, mais elle avait été jeune. - She was old, but she had been young.
  • Je l'aurais aidé si j'avais su. - I would've helped him if I had known.
  • J'étais parti(e) quand tu m'as téléphoné. - I had already left when you called (me).