Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto de Subjuntivo

The Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto de Subjuntivo is an advanced form of the Spanish subjunctive. Its use is similar to the Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto de Indicativo, as it also refers to thoughts, events or actions which took place before the point being referred to, which is itself in the past. The difference is that being a subjunctive form, a trigger phrase must have been used to indicate doubt, uncertainty, impossibility etc, which require the use of the subjunctive.

Tras el robo, vivía como si nada hubiera pasado.

After the robbery, he lived as if nothing had happened.

Conjugating the Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto de Subjuntivo

The Pretérito pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo is formed by conjugating the verb haber in its Pretérito imperfecto de subjuntivo form, and adding the past participle of the verb you wish to use. This means that there are two forms of each verb in this tense, as the auxiliary verb haber can be use in either the (ra) or (se) versions, correctly, without altering meaning.

(se) form(ra) formPast participle
Yohubiesehubieradicho
hubieseshubierascomido
Él/ella/ustedhubiesehubieratenido
Nosotroshubiésemoshubiéramospuesto
Vosotroshubieseishubieraishecho
Ellos/ellas/ustedeshubiesenhubieranentendido

Using the Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto de Subjuntivo

One common usage of this tense is in conditional sentences (oraciones condicionales), where the speaker is expressing that something cannot be done because of a past event which cannot be changed.

Habría ido de vacaciones en marzo si hubiera terminado mi principal proyecto. 

I would have had a holiday in March if I had finished my major project.

It is also used in conjunction with expressions such as como si (as if), or igual que si (the same as if) to imply that someone behaves as though they had done something in the past, when in fact they have not.

Miguel cocina comida italiana como si hubiera vivido allí.

Miguel cooks Italian food as if he had lived there.

The combination of actions long in the past, and the subjunctive mood, means that the presence of the pretérito pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo often implies impossibility, regret or ignorance rather than merely uncertainty.

Test Yourself!

Two conjugations of haber, both correct, plus you have to remember the participles. If you weren’t confused before you probably are now.

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