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The Pluperfect Subjunctive in Spanish

The pluperfect subjunctive in Spanish (pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo) has not only a funny name, but it’s also a very important tense to master the subjunctive. So, let’s start learning how to form it.

How to form the pluperfect subjunctive in Spanish

Alongside the imperfect subjunctive, the pluperfect is the only tense that has two different forms that we use mostly interchangeably. We need the auxiliary verb “haber” in its imperfect subjunctive form and the past participle of the main verb.

How to form the pluperfect subjunctive in Spanish

For example: En esa situación yo hubiera (or hubiese) actuado de otra forma. Mi hermano habló como si nunca me hubiese (or hubiera) querido.

When do we use the pluperfect subjunctive in Spanish?

Although we will study the uses deeper in further articles, we can outline the main ones. In general, we can say that the pluperfect subjunctive in Spanish is used in two ways. Firstly, in subordinate clauses in order to express real actions that happened before another one in the past. And on the other hand, we can express hypothetical actions that might have happened in the past in different circumstances.




Expressing real actions

When these real actions happened before another one and they are the cause of a feeling, we should use the pluperfect subjunctive.

For example: Me alegró mucho que hubieras aprobado el examen DELE. Sin embargo me entristeció que tu hermano hubiera suspendido la parte oral.

Now, let’s go to the irreal actions.

Hypothetical actions in the past

One of the most popular usages of the pluperfect subjunctive in Spanish is when it expresses irreal actions in the third conditional clauses.

For example: Si yo hubiese nacido en España, no tendría que estudiar español (but you weren’t born in Spain, actually).

Nevertheless, the hypothetical actions are not only expressed in conditional clauses. There are many other constructions that can be useful:

For example: ¿Te imaginas que tus padres no se hubieran conocido nunca? Probablemente, nunca hubiera conocido a un amigo tan bueno como tú.

In this sentence, those parents actually met in the past and their child was born. So, the especulation about not finding such a good friend will never have an answer because this person actually found that friend.

As you can see, the pluperfect subjunctive in Spanish can open our imagination in order to create other realities. Let us suggest that to you. Leave some comments below telling us how your life would have changed if something crucial had never happened. And, of course, if you want to learn more about this topic, reserve a lesson on