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.
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:|
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.
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
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 2Play Caption
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.Play Caption
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.Play Caption
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.
Today's lesson will highlight clips from our Yabla Spanish library to teach you some pertinent terms to talk about many people's favorite holiday... Halloween!!! So get ready, and enjoy this lesson about Halloween in Spanish!
Although Halloween is primarily thought of as a North American holiday, its fun festivities have been adopted by many countries throughout the world. When we speak about Halloween in Spanish, we typically keep its English name:
Esta noche es Halloween y seguro que muchas veces habéis pensado disfrazaros con vuestra mascota
Tonight is Halloween and surely you've thought many times of dressing up with your pet
Captions 137-138, Animales en familia Un día en Bioparc: CoatísPlay Caption
This caption describes the common Halloween costumbre (custom) of disfrazarse (dressing up). You'll note from the previous sentence that costumbre means "custom" or "tradition" rather than "costume" as you might think, making it somewhat of a false cognate. On the other hand, the correct way to say "the costume" in Spanish is el disfraz.
Ay, Aurelito, ¿me prestarías un disfraz?
Oh, Aurelito, would you lend me a costume?
Caption 32, Club 10 Capítulo 1 - Part 2Play Caption
What other vocabulary words might we associate with Halloween? We might start by reviewing some Spanish vocabulary for the autumn season since Halloween falls at that time of year. We could then move on to some of Halloween's personajes más espeluznantes (spookiest characters).
Let's look at some video clips that include the names of some of the most typical Halloween characters:
¿Quién no ha querido a una diosa licántropa?
Who hasn't loved a werewolf goddess?
Caption 5, Shakira LobaPlay Caption
porque sí sé... ahí está el monstruo.
because I know... here's the monster.
Caption 29, Antonio Vargas - Artista ComicPlay Caption
El fantasma y la loca se quieren casar
The ghost and the madwoman want to get married
Caption 24, Gloria Trevi PsicofoníaPlay Caption
En la época, eran utilizadas para espantar a las brujas
In the era, they were used to scare away witches
Caption 46, Viajando en Colombia Cartagena en coche - Part 2Play Caption
Let's look at another verb that means "to frighten" or "scare":
o cuando hay una fecha importante, ellos salen... a divertir y a asustar a la gente porque están como unos diablos.
or when there is an important date, they go out... to amuse and to frighten people because they're [dressed] like devils.
Captions 45-46, El Trip IbizaPlay Caption
And, in addition to asustar, we learn the word for another Halloween character: un diablo (a devil). Let's see another verb that means "to scare":
¡Me da miedo! -¡Ahí te tienes que quedar, ya está!
It scares me! -There you have to stay, ready!
Caption 24, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 7Play Caption
Note that the noun el miedo means "the fear," and the verb dar miedo (literally "to give fear") can thus mean either "to scare" or "be scary." When employed in conjunction with an indirect object pronoun to indicate to whom this action is happening (le in this case, which corresponds with usted), the most common translation is "to scare," as we see in this caption.
So, what if we want to say that we "are" or "feel scared"? A common verb for this is tener miedo (literally "to have fear"), as seen in this caption with the Halloween-appropriate noun la oscuridad (the dark/darkness):
¡Porque le tiene miedo a la oscuridad!
Because he's afraid of the dark!Play Caption
The reflexive form of asustar, asustarse, also means "to be" or "get scared":
Aparecieron unos cazadores, y el patito se asustó mucho
Some hunters appeared, and the duckling got really scared
Caption 36, Cleer El patito feoPlay Caption
Yet another way to talk about being "scared" in Spanish is with adjectives like asustado (scared) or aterrorizado (terrified):
Llegan muy asustados, muy aterrorizados,
They arrive very scared, very terrified,
Caption 25, Los Reporteros Caza con Galgo - Part 3Play Caption
For more on the ways in which verbs, adjectives, and nouns can be used to describe our feelings, be sure to check out our lesson on expressing emotions in Spanish.
Let's conclude this section with a few ways to express the concept of "scary":
¡Uy, qué miedo!
Oh, how scary!Play Caption
Literally meaning "What fear!" the Spanish expression ¡Qué miedo! is a common way to say "how scary" something is. We can also use our previously-mentioned verb dar miedo (this time without the indirect object pronoun) to convey the idea of "being scary":
Eh... Sí. Lo desconocido siempre da miedo.
Um... Yes. The unknown is always scary.
Caption 13, Yago 13 La verdad - Part 8Play Caption
We can also say "scary" with adjectives like escalofriante, sinestro/a, or miedoso/a:
¿Y esa calavera tan miedosa?
And that very scary skull?
Caption 20, Guillermina y Candelario Un pez mágico - Part 2Play Caption
And with the word for "the skull" in Spanish (la calavera), we come to our last category: Halloween objects!
If we know how to say "skull," we had better find out how to say "skeleton" in Spanish:
con una forma parecida a la del esqueleto de un dinosaurio,
with a shape similar to that of a dinosaur's skeleton,Play Caption
So, where might we find such esqueletos? Why, in their tumbas (graves) in el cementerio (the cemetery) of course!
en Ricardo, en su tumba en el cementerio,
about Ricardo in his grave in the cemetery,
Caption 28, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 10 - Part 8Play Caption
So, let's set the scene in that cemetery with a "full moon" in Spanish, which might inspire some hombre lobo (another word for "werewolf") to come out:
Y la luna llena Por los cielos azulosos, infinitos y profundos esparcía su luz blanca
And the full moon In the bluish skies, infinite and profound, scattered its white lightPlay Caption
Now, let's focus on some slightly less ominous symbols of Halloween such as el gato negro (the black cat), seen in its diminutive form in the following caption:
También está este gatito negro
There's also this black kitty
Caption 73, Fermín y los gatos Mis gatas vecinasPlay Caption
The "pumpkin" is, perhaps, the most famed Halloween symbol of all:
Justo en el doblez del papel, trazamos la mitad de la calabaza.
Right on the fold of the paper, we draw half of the pumpkin.
Caption 67, Manos a la obra Papel picado para Día de muertosPlay Caption
And finally, we associate Halloween with trick-or-treating, or going door to door to get "candy":
Y ahora cortamos pedacitos de caramelo.
And now we cut little pieces of candy.
Caption 38, Manos a la obra Postres de MinecraftPlay Caption
The way to say "Trick or treat!" varies from region to region, but some popular ways are: "Dulce o truco" in Argentina, "Dulce o travesura" in Mexico, and the more literal but less accurate "Truco o trato" (from the verb "tratar," or "to treat") in Spain, where they also say "Dulce o caramelo." In Colombia, you might hear "Triqui, triqui," where kids sing the following song:
Triqui triqui Halloween/Quiero dulces para mí/Si no hay dulces para mí/se le crece la naríz,
which translates as:
Trick or treat, Halloween/I want treats for me/If there are no treats for me/Your nose will grow.
Meanwhile, Pedir dulce o truco/travesura, etc. can be used to talk about the action of "trick-or-treating."
Let’s conclude today’s lesson with a review of the Halloween vocabulary we have learned:
el Halloween: Halloween
¡Feliz Halloween! Happy Halloween!
difrazarse: to dress up
el disfraz: the costume
la costumbre: the custom, tradition
el personaje: the character
el/la licántropo/a: the werewolf
el hombre lobo: the werewolf
el monstruo: the monster
el fantasma: the ghost
el/la loco/a: the madman/madwoman
la bruja: the witch
el diablo: the devil
espantar: to scare away
asustar: to scare
el miedo: the fear
dar miedo: to scare/be scary
tener miedo: to be scared
asustarse: to be/get scared
¡Qué miedo! How scary!
la oscuridad: the darkness/dark
la calavera: the skull
el esqueleto: the skeletonla tumba: the grave
el cementerio: the cemetery
la luna llena: the full moon
el gato negro: the black cat
la calabaza: the pumkin
el caramelo: the candy
¡Dulce o truco/travesura/caramelo! Trick or treat!
¡Truco o trato! Trick or treat!
¡Triqui triqui! Trick or treat!
Pedir dulce o truco/travesura: to go trick or treating
We hope you've enjoyed this lesson about Halloween in Spanish, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.
¡Feliz Halloween! (Happy Halloween!).
The use of reflexive verbs in Spanish can be very challenging for English speakers. A verb is used reflexively when the subject of the verb is also its object. In other words, when the subject is acting on itself.
Of course, English also uses reflexive verbs. However, while English makes use of expressions like "to himself," "to herself," etc., Spanish uses reflexive pronouns. Let's compare the use of reflexive verbs in Spanish and English in the following examples:
Es que con su electricidad se defiende.
The thing is that with her electricity, she defends herself.
Caption 22, Guillermina y Candelario - Un pez mágicoPlay Caption
One of the most challenging aspects of the use of reflexive verbs in Spanish is the different ways in which reflexive pronouns and verbs are combined. You can use the pronoun as in the first example: ella se defiende (she defends herself), but adding the reflexive pronoun as a suffix to the verb is also correct (though kind of poetic), ella defiéndese (she defends herself).
Here's another example that even combines two reflexive verbs in such a way:
Ella está dedicándose a relajarse pintando.
She's dedicating herself to relaxing [herself] by painting.
Caption 21, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricosPlay Caption
And there is even a different way to express the exact same idea:
Ella se está dedicando a relajarse pintando.
It's also very common to use more than one verb in reflexive expressions in Spanish. Usually one verb is conjugated and the other one is an infinitive. Here is an example that combines the verbs saber (to know) and cuidar (to take care):
No le teme a nada, él se sabe cuidar
He's not afraid of anything, he knows how to take care of himself
Caption 42, Alberto Barros - Mano a manoPlay Caption
There is another way to express the same idea. Can you guess it now? Let's take a look:
él sabe cuidarse.
Remember we said that Spanish uses reflexive pronouns while English uses expressions such as "to himself," "to herself," etc.? Well, that doesn't mean that Spanish doesn't have similar expressions. Let's see what those expressions are:
- mí mismo (myself)
- sí misma (herself)
- sí mismo (himself, itself)
- sí mismos (themselves), and
- nosotros mismos (ourselves)
It may seem repetitive, but it's correct and very common to use them altogether with reflexive pronouns and verbs:
De crecer, de vivir, de ver, de realizarse a sí mismos.
To grow, to live, to make themselves [to come into their own].
Captions 14-15, Horno San Onofre - La Historia de la PasteleríaPlay Caption
Another confusing aspect of reflexive verbs in Spanish is that they are not always used in the same situations in English. A classic example is the use of the reflexive bañarse to describe the action of taking a bath. You wouldn't normally say "I'm bathing myself" in English, but rather "I'm bathing" or "I'm taking a bath." Or take, for example, the verb arrepentir[se]:
Quisiera arrepentirme, ser el mismo, y no decirte eso
I would like to repent, to be the same, and to not tell you that
Caption 19, Camila - Aléjate de miPlay Caption
Sometimes things get even more confusing. Expressions like la sopa se quema or el plato se rompió (literally "the soup burns itself" and "the dish broke itself") don't seem to make much sense, right? How can inanimate objects act on themselves? However, these expressions are correct in Spanish, and they are commonly used as some kind of passive voice. That's how they usually translate to English:
...pero no muy oscuro porque si no, se quema la arepa.
...but not very dark because if not, the arepa gets burned.
Caption 41, Dany - ArepasPlay Caption
To end this lesson we want to share with you a Spanish saying that uses reflexive verbs. It may come in handy if you are thinking reflexive Spanish verbs are way too confusing. It goes like this:
No te preocupes, mejor ocúpate (Don't worry yourself, it's better to occupy yourself).
We hope you enjoyed this lesson about reflexive verbs in Spanish and please send us your comments and suggestions.