How to use the Past Perfect/Pluperfect Tense (Plusquamperfekt)

The Plusquamperfekt or past perfect is one of the tenses that confuse people sometimes, even German natives. Learn in this article how not to be confused about it.

In short: the past perfect or Plusquamperfekt (how we would say in German) is used to express actions that took place before a certain point in the past.

table for plusquamperfekt or past perfect

So think about it this way. Say you tell someone a story about what you have done yesterday. You want to say you played football, before you ate lunch yesterday. Both is in the past, but playing football happened before that and by the time you ate lunch you finished playing football.

Example: Ich hatte Fußball gespielt, bevor ich eine Mahlzeit aß.

How to form the Plusquamperfekt (past perfect):

1. Präteritum-Form of sein/haben
2. Past participle (Partizip II) of the full verb (Vollverb).

Remember
use the Plusquampefect never alone, always together with Präteritum or Perfekt
– two activities at different times in the past
– Plusquamperfeft with the activity that happened first.

Video about the past perfect (plusquamperfekt)

Here is also a great article about the Plusquamperfekt.

What do you think, shall we do some exercises?

Exercise about Plusquamperfekt

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