Past Perfect Subjunctive in Spanish Grammar

Introduction

The pluperfect subjunctive (pretérito pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo) is used after specific verbs and expressions of doubt, wishes, hopes, personal opinions or feelings. It expresses actions that took place before a specific past time or that would have taken place under different conditions.

Learn about the conjugation and usage of the pluperfect subjunctive in Spanish grammar with Lingolia’s grammar rules and exercises. See indicative tenses for information about pluperfect indicative and tense comparison for the difference between the indicative and subjunctive mood in Spanish grammar.

Example

Me extrañó mucho que me hubieras mandado una postal de la Cordillera Cantábrica. Probablemente, me hubiera encantado la visita a la región. ¿Te imaginas qué hubiéramos visto lobos ibéricos?

Si me lo hubieras dicho antes, habría ido contigo.

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Usage

The subjunctive is used after specific expressions of wishes, hopes doubt, feeling or personal opinion. We use the past perfect subjunctive in the following cases:

  • in dependent clauses after certain expressions, when the subjunctive action had already taken place beforehand
    Example:
    Me extrañó mucho que me hubieras mandado una postal de la Cordillera Cantábrica.I was very surprised that you had sent me a postcard from the Cantabrian Mountains.
  • action that could/would have taken place in the past (but did not take place)
    Example:
    Probablemente, me hubiera encantado la visita a la región.Probably I would have loved to visit the region.
    ¿Te imaginas qué hubiéramos visto lobos ibéricos?Can you imagine if we’d seen Iberian wolves?
  • in conditional clause type III si-clauses (unreal condition in the past)
    Example:
    Si me lo hubieras dicho antes, habría ido contigo.If you had told me that sooner, I would have come with you.

Verbs and expressions with the subjunctive

The following lists include the verbs and expressions after which we have to use the subjunctive.

Dependent Clauses

We can only use the past perfect subjunctive (pretérito pluscuamperfecto subjuntivo) in a dependent clause when the verb in the main clause is in one of the following tenses.

tense main clause dependent clause
preterite Me alegró…I was glad that he had come. de que hubiera venido.
conditional Seguro que me alegraríaI would surely be glad if he had come.
conditional perfect Seguro que me habría alegradoI would surely have been glad if he had come.

Verb Conjugation in Spanish Pluperfect Subjunctive

To conjugate verbs in the pluperfect subjunctive, we use imperfect subjunctive forms of the verb haber + past pasrticiple.

person haber participle
yo hubiera/hubiese

hablado

aprendido

vivido

hubieras/hubieses
él/ella/usted hubiera/hubiese
nosotros/-as hubiéramos/hubiésemos
vosotros/-as hubierais/hubieseis
ellos/ellas/ustedes hubieran/hubiesen

Past Participle

We construct the past participle by removing the infinitive ending and adding the corresponding participle ending: -ado for -ar verbs or -ido for -er/-ir verbs.

Example:
hablar - hablado
aprender - aprendido
vivir - vivido

Irregular past participles

Some verbs have irregular participle forms. The most important irregular participle forms are listed in the table below:

verb past participle translation
abrir abierto open
decir dicho say
escribir escrito write
hacer hecho do/make
imprimir impreso print
morir muerto die
poner puesto set/place
ver visto see
volver vuelto return