Spanish Lessons


The Pluperfect Tense in Spanish

Like in English, the Spanish pluperfect tense describes something that happened before something else, for example, something that "had" already happened at a certain point in time or before another past action. Let's find out how to conjugate the Spanish pluperfect tense and hear several examples in action.


Conjugating the Spanish Pluperfect

The Spanish pluperfect tense, which is sometimes referred to as the past perfect tense, is pretty easy to conjugate! It is very similar to the Spanish present perfect tense (the verb haber in the present tense + the participle) except that haber will be conjugated in the Spanish imperfect tense. So, the formula for the pluperfect tense in Spanish would be:


haber in the imperfect tense + the participle


Let's first take a look at the imperfect conjugation of haber:


Personal Pronoun: Conjugation of Haber:
yo había
él/ella/usted había
nosotros/as habíamos
vosotros/as habíais
ellos/ellas/ustedes habían








Now we need a Spanish participle. These correspond to English participles (which often but not always end in -ed or -en). Examples include regular -ar verbs like hablado (talked/spoken) and mirado (looked), regular -er verbs like comido (eaten) and aprendido (learned), regular -ir verbs like recibido (received) and dormido (slept), and irregular verbs like abierto (opened), visto (seen), and dicho (said). For a list of more irregular Spanish participles as well as a detailed explanation of how to conjugate participles in Spanish, we invite you to consult this lesson on the present perfect tense in Spanish


Meaning of the Spanish Pluperfect

Whereas the verb haber in the present tense can be translated as "have" in the context of the present perfect in examples like Yo he comido (I have eaten), Tú has comenzado (You have begun), or Nosotros/as hemos hablado (We have talked/spoken), the translation for the imperfect conjugation of haber within the pluperfect tense is "had." That said, let's look at those same verbs conjugated in the pluperfect, noting their translations:


Yo había comido: I had eaten

Tú habías comenzado: You had begun

Nosotros/as habíamos hablado: We had talked/spoken


Examples of the Spanish Pluperfect

Now that we know how to conjugate the Spanish pluperfect and how to translate it, let's view a few examples. You will note from the translations that the Spanish pluperfect is used in very similar situations as the pluperfect in English. 


Cuando Cenicienta quiso dar las gracias, el hada ya había desaparecido.

When Cinderella tried to say thank you, the fairy had already disappeared.

Caption 1, Cuentos de hadas Cenicienta - Part 2

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Here, the pluperfect is used to indicate that the fairy "had disappeared" prior to the moment that Cinderella "tried" to say goodbye (as described by the preterite verb quiso).  Let's see another one:


Pero es que nunca había visto una anguila.

But the thing is that I had never seen an eel.

Caption 3, Guillermina y Candelario Un pez mágico - Part 2

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In this example, rather than expressing that "he'd" never "seen" an eel before some other past action, the speaker employs the pluperfect to explain that, at the moment in the past that he is describing, he "hadn't seen" an eel ever in his life. Let's look at one more: 


decidieron regresar al lugar de donde habían venido.

they decided to return to the place where they had come from.

Caption 44, Aprendiendo con Carlos América precolombina - El mito de Bachué

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In this final example, the preterite verb decidieron lets us know that in that moment in the past, "they decided" to go back to the location where they "had come from" (at some other moment in time prior to deciding to go back, of course!). 


That's all for today. We hope that this lesson has helped you to understand how the Spanish pluperfect tense is conjugated and used... and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments


The Verb Quedar

Quedar is a very useful and interesting Spanish verb because it has a great number of different meanings. Let's learn a few!
Quedar ("to stay" or "to remain") is commonly used alone (quedar) or accompanied with reflexive pronouns (quedarse). This verb can be followed by different complements and prepositions such as con (with), en (in, on), or de (of, from).
Quedarse con means "to stay with":


Y te quedas con los niños.

And you stay with the children.

Caption 29, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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It's useful to learn how to turn this expression into an order or request. All you have to do is use the reflexive pronoun as a suffix of the verb: quédate con los niños (stay with the kids). Here's another useful example:

Quédate conmigo

Stay with me

Caption 42, Carlos Baute y Marta Sanchez - Colgando en tus manos

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If you combine the verb quedar(se) with the preposition en (in, on), you can introduce an expression of place:

El azúcar se queda en la sangre.

Sugar stays in the blood.

Caption 5, Los médicos explican - La diabetes

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You could also use it to express time using prepositions such as desde (since), or durante (during). For example: Elisa se quedará durante el verano (Elisa will stay during the summer); Nos quedaremos desde mayo hasta junio (We'll stay from May to June).
Do you remember how Spanish uses the word hay (there is, there are), the impersonal form of the verb haber (to have)? You can do something similar with queda or quedan (singular and plural third person of quedar) to express the idea "there is [something] left":

Pues ya no queda nada de qué hablar, nada...

For there is nothing left to talk about, nothing...

Caption 2, Bunbury - Entrevista Con Enrique Bunbury

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This combination of “queda + something” is very useful, and interesting too, because it uses the verb quedar as in a way similar to the impersonal verb hay (there's, there are). So, for example, you can say: ¿Queda café? (Is there any coffee left?), ¿Quedan plátanos en el refri? (Are there any bananas left in the fridge?).
Quedar can also mean "to end up," or "to result in." For example, in the question ¿En qué quedó eso? (How did that end up?). Or here:

Y así queda nuestro diseño.

And our design ends up looking like this.

Caption 71, Manos a la obra - Papel picado para Día de muertos

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This can also be used with reflexive pronouns. You can say: Así nos queda nuestro diseño. Another example is:

...porque si no el brócoli sí que nos queda crudo.

...because if not the broccoli does end up raw for us.

Caption 17, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli

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The expressions quedar con and quedar en can be used figuratively to express that you have agreed about something with someone. For example, agreeing to meet in a certain place:
Quedamos en vernos aquí a las tres en punto.
We agreed we will meet here at three o'clock.
Or just agreeing with someone on something:
Quedé con Esther en que me quedaría a cuidar a los niños.
I agreed with Esther that I would stay to take care of the kids.

The verb quedar can also be used to express the idea that someone has changed or ended up in a certain position or state of mind. For example: Juliana se quedó sola tras la partida de Esther (Juliana was left alone after Esther's departure). Me quedé sorprendido con su actuación (I was [left] surprised by her performance). Translations vary, however. For example:


Bueno, mi papá se quedó sin trabajo

Well, my dad lost his job

Caption 15, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro

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You can also use the verb quedar to express the idea that a person has gained a certain reputation after an action. For example: quedé como un idiota (I looked like an idiot). As a result, the fixed expression quedar bien means then "to look good" or "get in good with," while quedar mal means the opposite.
No me quedes mal, papá.
Don't let me down, Dad.

Además es una manera de quedar bien con la empresa.

Additionally, it's a way to look good with the company.

Caption 84, Raquel y Marisa - Español Para Negocios - Nuestro perfil profesional en la red

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Quedar can also be used to express the idea that you will keep something with you. For example:
-Me quedaré con tu pluma porque me gusta mucho. -No, no puedes quedártela.
-I will keep your pen because I really like it. -No, you can't keep it.
Can you think of a way to answer the previous question with a positive? It's Claro, quédatela ("Sure, keep it")!
You can also use the expression quedar por + a verb in the infinitive to express the idea that something is left to be done. Translations vary depending on the context. For example:
Sólo queda por hacer la tarea.
Only homework is left to be done.
No quiero ni pensar en todo lo que nos queda por alcanzar.
I don't even want to think about how much we still need to achieve.
 Finally, the verb quedar also means "to fit" or "to suit":

¿Me queda bien? Sí, ¿no?

Does it look good on me? It does, right?

-Guapo, guapo, muy bien se ve.

-Handsome, handsome, it looks very good.

Caption 52, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

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Figuratively speaking, it means "to be appropriate”:


¡No queda que fumes en una fiesta infantil!
It's not appropriate for you to smoke at a children's party!


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