How to form the French plus-que-parfait?
The plus-que-parfait, as the passé composé, is a compound tense.
It means that you need two verbs to conjugate it.
You will first need an auxiliary verb, either AVOIR or ÊTRE, that you conjugate in imparfait tense.
See AVOIR or ÊTRE conjugations in the attached infographic.
Then you will need the past participle of the verb you want to conjugate in plus-que-parfait.
For example: J’avais parlé (I had spoken) / J’étais allé (I had gone)
Note that the plus-que-parfait is very similar to the passé composé, but instead of conjugating the auxiliary verb in present tense, you conjugate it in imparfait.
To know whether you should use the auxiliary verb ÊTRE or AVOIR, you have to follow the same rules as for the passé composé. Read them here.
How to form the Past Participle?
In English, most past participles end with -ED (arrived).
In French, they mostly end with -É, -I, -U:
- For all regular -ER verbs, remove the -ER from the infinitive and replace it with -É –> parler –> parlé
- For all regular -IR verbs, remove the -IR from the infinitive and replace it with -I –> finir –> fini
- For all regular -RE verbs, remove the -RE from the infinitive and replace it with -U –> vendre –> vendu
Then you have all the irregular verbs that don’t follow any pattern and that you have to learn by heart 😉
Here are some very useful verbs to know:
- être –> été
- avoir –> eu
- faire –> fait
- pouvoir –> pu
- vouloir –> voulu
- Elle avait pris son petit déjeuner quand je suis arrivé.
She had had breakfast when I arrived.
- J’avais déjà appris à jouer du piano quand j’ai commencé la guitare.
I had already learned to play the piano when I started the guitar.
- Le train était déjà parti quand nous sommes arrivés à la gare.
The train had already left when we arrived at the station.
- Ils m’ont dit qu’ils n’étaient jamais venus en France avant.
They told me that they had never come to France before.
- Je croyais qu’il avait habité à Paris.
I thought he had lived in Paris .