Aim of this section is to learn the third way to speak about past events.
Er kaufte sich ein teures Auto, nachdem er im Lotto gewonnen hatte.
He bought an expensive car after he had won in the lottery.
When do you use the tense "Plusquamperfekt"?
The "Plusquamperfekt" is always used when you speak about a event in the past
that had happened before another event in the past.
Another expresson for the "Plusquamperfekt" is "Vorvergangenheit" (="pre past")
which describes its purpose best. The "Plusquamperfekt" is rarely used.
Als die Eltern das Haus verlassen hatten, schauten die Kinder die ganze Nacht fern.
(When the parents had left the house the children watched tv all night.)
Nachdem sie das Visum bekommen hatte, ist sie sofort nach Deutschland geflogen.
(After she had got the visa she flew immediately to Germany.)
Indicators for "Plusquamperfekt"
There is a row of conjunctions which are clear indicators for "Plusquamperfekt" :
How do you form the tense "Plusquamperfekt"?
Hilfsverben (auxiliary verbs = "helping verbs")
There are two "Hilfsverben" in German:
When do you have to use "haben" and when "sein"?
For all other cases use "haben" as "Hilfsverb".
Another useful rule is that almost all weak verbs (see topic perfect) take "haben" as their "Hilfsverb".
The only exception are the verbs "reisen" (travel) and "passieren" (happen).
The "Hilfsverb" is conjugated as usual. The main verb is transformed into the "Partizip II".
What is the "Partizip II" and how do you form it?
We spoke in detail about "Partizip II" when we learned the "Perfekt" tense.
Please check this topic for more information.
summary - documents for your folder
Plusquamperfekt (theory, 3 pages)