Past Perfect Tense in Spanish Grammar

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What is the past perfect tense in Spanish?

The past perfect, also the pluperfect (pretérito pluscuamperfecto de indicativo), is used for actions that took place before a certain time in the past. It is similar to the English past perfect tense.

Learn about the conjugation and usage of the Spanish pluperfect tense with Lingolia’s grammar rules, then test yourself in the exercises. See the subjunctive tenses for information on the conjugation and usage of the past perfect subjunctive. In tense comparison, you will find an overview of all the Spanish tenses.


En una competición de talentos Luisa tocó una pieza de música muy complicada con su flauta.

Había practicado mucho para presentar esta pieza tan perfectamente.

When to use the past perfect in Spanish grammar

The Spanish pluperfect or past perfect indicative is much the same as the English past perfet tense. Use this tense to describe:

  • an action that took place before a certain point in the past
    Había practicado mucho para presentar esta pieza tan perfectamente.She had practised for a long time to be able to play the piece so perfectly.

How to conjugate the past perfect tense in Spanish grammar

To conjugate the past perfect (pretérito pluscuamperfecto), we use the imperfect form of the verb haber, followed by the participle of the main verb.

Person haber Participle
yo había




él/ella/usted había
nosotros/-as habíamos
vosotros/-as habíais
ellos/ellas/ustedes habían

Reflexive Verbs

When we use a reflexive verb in the past perfect, the reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nos, os, se) always comes before the help verb haber.

levantarse - Ese día me había levantado muy temprano.I had got up very early that day.

How to form the Spanish participle

We form the Spanish participle by adding -ado or -ido to the root of the verb.

  • add -ado to the root of -ar verbs
    hablar → habladospeak → spoken
  • add -ido to the root of -er and -ir verbs
    aprender → aprendidolearn → learned
    vivir → vividolive → lived


When the root of the verb ends in a vowel, the -i of the ending -ido takes an accent: -ído.

leer → leídoread → read
oír → oídohear → heard
traer → traídobring → brought

Note: Participles that contain a dipthong (weak vowel + weak vowel) such as construido or huido do not take an accent.

Check out our Spanish-language page on accents to learn more about dipthongs.

Irregular participles

Certain verbs have an irregular participle form as shown in the table below:

Verb Irregular Participle Regular Participle
abrir abierto
cubrir cubierto
decir dicho
escribir escrito
hacer hecho
freír* frito freído
imprimir* impreso imprimido
morir muerto
poner puesto
proveer* provisto proveído
romper roto
satisfacer satisfecho
suscribir** suscrito/suscripto
ver visto
volver vuelto

*Some verbs have two participle forms, one regular and one irregular. There is no difference in meaning and they can be used interchangeably.

**The participle suscripto is used in certain countries in Latin America.

Derivative irregular verbs

Many verbs are derivative; they are derived from irregular verbs by adding a prefix. Their participles are also irregular:

encubrir → encubiertohide → hidden
descubrir → descubiertodiscover → discovered
componer → compuestocompose → composed
posponer → pospuestopostpone → postponed
proponer → propuestopropose → proposed
revolver → revueltostir → stirred
resolver → resueltoresolve → resolved
devolver → devueltoreturn → returned
deshacer → deshechoundo → undone
predecir → predichopredict → predicted
prever → previstoforecast → forecasted

Note: although derived from the irregular verb romper, the participle of the verb corromper is regular.

corromper → corrompidocorrupt → corrupted
not: corroto