What is the value of Plus-que-Parfait in French?

French conjugation and tenses might be tricky. But once you know how to conjugate a tense the good thing is you can use it not only to express the tense itself but for a lot of ideas. That is so useful to know and I will tell you here the different values of Plus-que-Parfait tense in French. Let’s first review how to conjugate the Plus-que-Parfait in French.


French Plus-que-Parfait French is a compound tense:

  • auxiliary at imparfait tense (être or avoir)
  • participle


  • Il avait retrouvé mes lunettes.
  • Nous étions partis à six heures du matin.
  • Ils avaient raconté leur voyage.

Values of Plus-que-Parfait in French

Plus-que-Parfait is the “past in the past”. It is used to express:

  • a fact, an event or action that happened before another action in the past (where the tense is already in the past)(enfin! il m’a rendu hier les livres que je lui avais prêtés l’année dernière)
  • unreal in the past, a fact that didn’t occur, an action that didn’t happen (si tu étais venu à mon anniversaire, tu aurais rencontré mon ami Paul)
  • regrets (Ah, si j’avais su!)
  • reproach (Si tu avais suivi mon conseil…!)
  • very polite or indirect request (even more polite than with imparfait) (pardon, Monsieur, excusez-moi de vous déranger, j’étais juste venue vous demander si vous pouviez m’aider)

I hope this will help you to use the Plus-que-Parfait tense in different situations!

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