Pluperfect Subjunctive

French pluperfect subjunctive
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Plus-que-parfait du subjonctif

The rarest French verb form is the pluperfect subjunctive (aka past perfect subjunctive). It’s a literary tense, meaning that it’s reserved for formal, written French – mainly literature, but also history and journalism.

The pluperfect subjunctive is equivalent to the past subjunctive used in spoken French, shown here (in parentheses).

Par exemple…

Je craignais qu’il fĂ»t parti.
(Je craignais qu’il soit parti.)
  I feared he had left.
Elle mentait quoique j’eusse dĂ©couvert son secret.
(Elle mentait quoique j’aie dĂ©couvert son secret.)
  She was lying even though I’d discovered her secret.

 Because it’s literary, you don’t need to be able to conjugate the pluperfect subjunctive, but you should learn to recognize it, especially if you read classic French literature and poetry.

Pluperfect subjunctive conjugations

The pluperfect subjunctive is a compound verb form, which means its conjugation has two components:

  verb   conjugation
1. auxiliary (avoir or ĂȘtre)   imperfect subjunctive
2. main verb   past participle

Par exemple…

avoir verb   ĂȘtre verb   pronominal verb
donner (to give)   sortir (to go out)   s’habiller (to get dressed)
j’eusse donnĂ©   je fusse sorti(e)   je me fusse habillĂ©(e)
tu eusses donnĂ©   tu fusses sorti(e)   tu te fusses habillĂ©(e)
il eĂ»t donnĂ©   il fĂ»t sorti   il se fĂ»t habillĂ©
elle eĂ»t donnĂ©   elle fĂ»t sortie   elle se fĂ»t habillĂ©e
nous eussions donnĂ©   nous fussions sorti(e)s   nous nous fussions habillĂ©(e)s
vous eussiez donnĂ©   vous fussiez sorti(e)(s)   vous vous fussiez habillĂ©(e)(s)
ils eussent donnĂ©   ils fussent sortis   ils se fussent habillĂ©s
elles eussent donnĂ©   elles fussent sorties   elles se fussent habillĂ©es

 The pluperfect subjunctive is identical to the second form of the conditional perfect.

 Past participle agreement

As in all compound conjugations, the past participle in the pluperfect subjunctive may need to agree in gender and number with the word it modifies – learn more.

 Related lessons

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French pluperfect subjunctive

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